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

CNN Poll: American believe Iran has nuclear weapons

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/19/art.iran.file.gi.jpg caption="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. OldUncleTom

    Another tribute to the ignorance and gullibility of the American public.

    Same folks who think Saddam flew all 3 planes, and still made it back to Baghdad in time for executions.

    We have met the enemy, and they are US!!

    February 19, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. Alba

    Don't think so.

    February 19, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. J.P.

    Yeah, and Hitler wasn't really training an army... just a bunch of groundskeepers he was training to march with shovels on their shoulders. Let's go back to sticking our heads in the sand, shall we?

    February 19, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Jim Spangler

    Let Israel take them out and we play dumb. Should be an easy one for Obama.

    February 19, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  5. shucks

    and according to the republican party they are aimed right at your house here in America, and ready to tear your family apart.

    February 19, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. evman

    Iran is like a petulant child testing the boundaries. They need to be punished to be put back in their place. They are not smart enough to learn on their own or through others.

    Make Iran's nucleur program a stone age parking lot BEFORE it's too late.

    February 19, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. Danny

    What great rhetoric but where will the money to wage yet another war come from? Are Americans willing to step up and pay more in taxes to finance this new war? Since 59% support military action against Iran if sanctions don't bring about the desired results, I'm sure they won't have any problem putting their money where their mouth is.

    February 19, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    I guess 71% of the population likes pulling facts out of their behinds.


    Iran is not the problem, anybody ever gave a thought to Pakistan, who has a fraction of its country controlled by crazy radicals, and who already has a nuclear weapon???

    February 19, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    The average American re-elected Bush (Bush stole the first one with corrupt supreme judges or bought out judges) so they have no credibility. Let the real professionals in Government handle this... All yeah, I forgot the government is bad and not efficient, isn't that right rethuglicans? Thats right, government is out of control, wants to put laws on our women's body, and are lyers... ONLY WHEN RETHUGLICANS ARE IN CHARGE!!!

    February 19, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. Jason

    This just prove that American by intellectual capacity are "STUPID PEOPLE" Are You fooking kidding me???? Where did CNN found these nut heads?? Interior of Alabama?????

    In an two wars, with economy problems and rising unemployment, defict and no money to extend unemployment benefits, you want to start another war???? Good Grief!!!

    February 19, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Amir Kabir

    What percentage of people thought that Iraq had something to do with 9/11 or thought that Sadam was acquiring nuclear weapons. It seems that perception and reality are completely two different things.

    February 19, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. james

    They may very well have nukes, but they will be in good company. Many of the surrounding nations have nukes anyone of them at any given time feel that they are justified in there use. Does it worry me they may have them yes, but the fact Israel has them actually scare me because we know they have no self controll and respond way out of proportion to the situation. This with the fact Israel is currently ticking off many of the other nuclar powers in the area seems like a much more dier set of circunstances.

    February 19, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. IKHAN

    misleading deliberately orchestrated polls.
    Media is once again trying to divert Americans attention from the assasination in Dubai.

    Iran would never have the capability of attacking US. The more we threaten them the more chances that they might develop a small nuclear device down the road.
    However the war mongers here like to pounce on every straw to beat their drums.

    February 19, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. howie

    Ask Obama and other democrats, they do not think they have nuclear weapons, surely if he did he would not use them on America, would he democrats?

    February 19, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Skeeve

    Not surprising at all. People in this country rarely display knowledge or intelligence enough to have an opinion. At the height of dirty bomb hysteria about 4 years ago whole 18% of polled Americans could explain what radiation is.

    February 19, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. alek

    This is sad. Most people don't know when to admit they're ignorant. That is the unfortunate drawback of democracy. Every idiot is entitled to a vote and an opinion. We know that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons yet. All we know is that they’re now enriching uranium.

    The people who want to go to war are probably the same bunch who were rallying for war in Iraq after 911 and then started complaining when it lasted longer than a year. If we go to war with Iran, it will be Iraq x 300. Why? Because the proportion of Sunnis to Shiites is way out of whack in Iran. We’ll have to wipe out a third of the population, at least. We’ll make Martyrs out of every casualty they suffer.

    The last thing we need is another war with an Islamic regime.

    February 19, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. Tram


    How many other hate-spreading war mongers have nukes? Bush had PLENTY, remember?

    I'm a big believer in having a strong defense of America, but I find it so hypocritical of anyone in the US to say that no one else can have nukes when we're the only country to have used nukes in a war. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

    February 19, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  18. C.K.

    So 6 in 10 people think the U.S. has to shut them down? Why is it always the responsibility of the U.S. to police the world? We have nukes too, who's going to police us?

    February 19, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. Rudy Zarzosa

    Another convenient poll, I doubt very much that Americans, no matter how they are lied to this time, would want to be involved in another war.

    February 19, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. hillcoguy

    All this hemming and hawing over the past dozen years or so, I'm not surprised that the word hadn't gotten out before today.

    February 19, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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