Poll: Iranians Support Nuclear Weapons
By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Small majorities of Iranians say their country should
develop nuclear weapons and they would live in a safer world if Tehran
possessed such arms, according to a rare public opinion poll of that
Yet far fewer Iranians said it was as important to develop nuclear arms as a
long-term goal as it was to strengthen the economy and normalize diplomatic
and trade relations with the West.
The survey, provided to The Associated Press on Tuesday, was sponsored by
Terror Free Tomorrow, a Washington-based bipartisan group that seeks to
reduce worldwide support for terrorism and extremism.
The poll's responses pointed to internal divisions over President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's international confrontation over his country's nuclear
program. He says the effort is aimed at producing energy, but the
he would build weapons and the U.N. has clamped sanctions on
of suspicions the work would lead to armaments.
The poll also showed that despite sentiment for re-establishing ties with
said they support providing funds to Muslim groups like Hamas and Hezbollah,
"They want an opening to the West and to the
president of Terror Free Tomorrow, said of Iranians surveyed. "And nuclear
weapons, given their other concerns, are their lowest priority."
The group's advisory board includes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a
presidential contender. Another member is former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind.,
co-chairman of both the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group, which
urged the Bush administration last year to involve
Legitimate public opinion polls are unusual in
where dress codes and other rules of behavior are enforced. Though there is
some public dissent, religious rulers recently imprisoned hundreds of
students and others accused of threatening the Iranian system.
With face-to-face interviewers sometimes facing arrest, the poll was
conducted by telephone from a nearby country that Terror Free Tomorrow
requested not be disclosed.
Tension has long been high between the
In the survey, 52 percent of Iranians said they favor their country
developing nuclear weapons, with the same percent saying their world would
be safer if
Fifty-two percent also said it is important that
revenue to develop nuclear arms. Yet that compared with nine in 10 who
supported using the money to create jobs, tame inflation, buttress the oil
and gas industry and develop nuclear power.
Rising gasoline prices and fuel rationing prompted riots in
shortly after the survey was taken.
Illustrating widespread domestic dissatisfaction, eight in 10 said they
would support electing
matters and is chosen for life by a small council. About the same number
rated the country's economy poor or fair, while only one-third said
Ahmadinejad's policies for taming inflation and unemployment have succeeded.
The telephone survey, conducted for Terror Free Tomorrow by D3 Systems of
Vienna, Va., involved calls to 1,000 random Iranian adults nationwide.
Interviews were conducted in Farsi from June 5 to 18. The poll has a margin
of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
D3 says at least 90 percent of Iranians are reachable by landline