February 19th, 2010
12:00 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: American believe Iran has nuclear weapons

Seven in 10 Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons, according to a new national poll.
Seven in 10 Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons, according to a new national poll.

Washington (CNN) – Seven in 10 Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons, according to a new national poll.

Friday's release of the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey comes just hours after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Islamic republic isn't seeking and doesn't believe in pursuing nuclear weapons. Khamenei was responding to a draft United Nations report that said that Iran may be working to develop a nuclear weapon.

The poll indicates that 71 percent of the public says Iran has nuclear weapons, with just over one in four disagreeing. More than six in ten think the U.S. should take economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down their nuclear program, with only a quarter calling for immediate military action.

Full results (pdf)

"But if economic and diplomatic efforts fail, support for military action rises to 59 percent, with only 39 percent opposing military action under those circumstances," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey also indicates that support is dropping for how President Obama handled the attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, but the change seems unrelated to the controversy over reading the suspect his rights. In early January, 57 percent of the public approved of how Obama reacted to that incident, but that figure has dropped 12 points, with 47 percent now saying they disapprove of how Obama handled the situation.

"Critics have asserted that the FBI should not have read Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab his Miranda rights. But two-thirds think the FBI should have told AbdulMutallab that he had the right to remain silent, and 56 percent say that the FBI should do that with any terrorist suspect in custody," adds Holland.

But according to the poll, nearly six in ten continue to believe that the suspect should be tried in a military court, not a civilian court.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN Polls • Iran
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Mike in MN

    60% want the U.S. to use economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down their nuclear program. When again was it that Obama was going to get tough on Iran? And when was he going to get China and Russia to also get tough on Iran? Is he waiting for something?

    And regardless of whether or not Bush tried individuals like the underware bomber in civilian courts, 60% now agree they should be tried in military courts. It is a good idea now and going forward period, if that represents change, I thought Obama was all about change.

    February 19, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Iran will probably blow themselves up first because their so called Government is imploding.

    February 19, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Avi Shlomo

    How about israel? a country that has noclear warheads, refuses an investigation and refuses to be a signatory to any non proliferation treat. I suppose we should not even allow Iran to even think of using anuclear technology as much as we denided and destroyed Iraq on the Alter of Zionism.

    February 19, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. matt

    If CNN is going to post non-scientific polls, do you guys think you could at least try to ensure grammatical accuracy? Please fix the headline of this article, you are making the US look bad.

    February 19, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Wow...I guess all that cowboy diplomacy of chest-thumping, insulting, threatening and sanctioning from Bush and Cheney worked wonders huh? I mean, at least when we force Iran to build their nukes more secretively, everyone can live under a more believable illusion of safety, right? Who cares if what we're doing actually makes Iran WANT to build nukes MORE and provides them with the proof they need that building them is necessary to protect their sovereignty? They're brown, non-christian and don't speak English so they should be doing what we say, right GOPers? Freekin morons.

    February 19, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. JDD

    "The survey also indicates that support is dropping for how President Obama handled the attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, but the change seems unrelated to the controversy over reading the suspect his rights."

    That's interesting that the article makes a point of speculating this way. In fact, the drop in approval for this Administration's handling of this situation seems closely tied to the stream of information that comes out about the suspect's interrogation. That's exactly why public approval is dropping.

    "More than six in ten think the U.S. should take economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down their nuclear program, with only a quarter calling for immediate military action...But if economic and diplomatic efforts fail, support for military action rises to 59 percent, with only 39 percent opposing military action under those circumstances,"

    Which begs two questions:

    1) What would constitute "those circumstance" where diplomatic and economic sanctions fail"?

    2) How exactly have we not reached that point yet?

    February 19, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Whether or not Iran has nukes is none of our business, and making "economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down their nuclear program," let alone suggesting taking "immediate military action," is simply American arrogance.

    This double standard–that it's okay for Israel to have nukes but it's not okay if Iran does–is one of the reasons a third or more of the world doesn't like the US. We really need to stop trying to meddle in the affairs of other countries in other parts of the world.

    February 19, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "But if economic and diplomatic efforts fail, support for military action rises to 59 percent, with only 39 percent opposing military action under those circumstances,"

    So 59% of this country is 100% retarded? Shocker. Hint: Iran's military preparedness is NOT the same as Iraq's.

    One must wonder why CNN and the rest poll for opinions regarding matters that actually take knowledge and even expertise to understand. I wouldn't be suprised if that same 59% (then some) couldn't tell you where Iran is on a map and would look at you funny if you asked them whether Iran is run by a Shiite or Sunni regime. "Sh-tite and Sunny? Well gooooollleeee, what in tarnation is them? Excuse me a moment, I need to hold JimBob's 'Obama is Hitler' sign for a second while he refills the moonshine flask."

    Cue dueling banjoes....

    February 19, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Russ in Benton AR

    If Iran had nuclear weapons Israel would have already taken them out.

    February 19, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. girlsouth

    If Iran had nuclear weapons they intended to use against nations, they would have blown up Israel a long time ago.
    They may be crazy but they aren't stupid. They know they would never get away with it without putting the power they have, and crave, in serious jeopardy.
    There is no need to bring irrationale paranoia into our foreign policy.
    Be strong, resourceful, vigilant, and innovative. Seek credible intelligence.
    Beyond that, why can't we just leave the crackpots alone?

    February 19, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. RealityKing

    I wonder why CNN's progressive polling director didn't ask what signals economic and diplomatic failure??

    February 19, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Bill

    Sooner or later Iran will have nukes. Sooner or later we're going to have to take Iran out. I hope we don't wait too long. It's not possible to negotiate this threat away. You can't negotiate with maniacs.

    February 19, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Edwin

    Let's not use polls of opinions, this time, to support attacking a country. We did that in Iraq and discovered we were wrong, and look what happened - the region became destabilized and became a recruiting ground for terrorists. The world is significantly less safe now than it was before our invasion, mostly because of that invasion.

    Iran may have an evil government, but what would happen if we attacked? Let's hope our government actually thinks this one through before acting.

    February 19, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Phil

    This is ridiculous how can 71% of America be so misinformed!?

    February 19, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. johnnie w

    Yea and their all TEA BAGGERSand GOP, RNC, what a BOGUS POLL Cnn, that is PURE NONSESE, where do you Come with these POLLS of LIES........More GOP /CNN Fear Tactics, where is TED TURNER,come Back TED, COME BACK, Stop these NO PROOF POLLS Cnn, you looking real STUPIDLY........

    February 19, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. richp the poconos

    The really big question is do they have ones that WORK.

    February 19, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. sonny chapman

    Why can Israel have nukes but Iran can't ?

    February 19, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    While i do not know if Iran has a nuclear weapon yet, there is no question, that is their intent, and that once they have it, they will become a threat to world peace......if we can really say there is any peace in the world, now.

    February 19, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Total BS

    Get Glen Beck to go over there and shoot him in the head !!!

    February 19, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. worriedmom

    Well duh, now if only our President would believe it and stop trying to be their best friend!

    February 19, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Sean

    Think they have nuclear weapons? I don't get it. Either they do or they don't. This isn't an opinion questions. It's not "majority rules." There is such a thing as an absolute truth. This should not be a poll question.

    February 19, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Tony in Maine

    It's obvious – we must immediately go to war.

    Did the polls say we should use nucular (sic) missiles or just boring old conventional weapons. While I realize you are just as dead, I personally think that vaporized sends a much stronger message.

    If the Russians or Chinese get angry, we can beat our chests and tell the world that, "We're # 1" and tell them we have plenty more where those came from.

    February 19, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. hillcoguy

    Add me to the list of those who believe thay have a nuke. Add me to the list that says if WE don't do something, Israel will and we won't have much of a choice about what to do.

    February 19, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. SAM DACOSTA

    This rhetoric without proof is misleading and dangerous. I remember similar rhetoric being discussed and portrayed by George Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell with regards to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It proved to be wrong and they lied to the nation and the world. The USA should not be the nation executing their military might on the world because the world does not agree with us. If Israel feels threatened, then they should do a preemptive strike and not us.

    How many wars does this nation need to be engaged in at the same time; Iraq, Afghanistan and then Iran? If you think America is in debt now, then watch our economy and debt, if we conduct a war against Iran. Why not just impose greater sanctions and isolate the Iran regime.

    February 19, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Brent

    This story just underscores how uninformed the American public still is. Reminds me of the "polls" before the war in Iraq. I imagine the percentage of people who believe Saddam was involved in 9'11 is still disturbingly high.

    February 19, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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