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. Reny

    of course they do and anyone who thinks they wants nuclear power for peaceful means is a fool.

    February 19, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. katiec

    I find it very hard to believe that 59% of the American people support another war. Course, with CNN's undying support for Cheney and other war mongers, can see how they would twist the outcome to show what they support.

    February 19, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. KC

    I bet the people who want to wage war with Iran are Republicans...the same ones who were cheering Dick Cheney at the CPAC Convention! War is certainly not the answer here...we already have two wars raging, enough is enough!

    February 19, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. If I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    That is about the same percent who felt Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I am sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons yet, but may in the next several years. What is it about 25% and the military action? What are you chicken hawks thinking?

    February 19, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. David

    Looks like the neo-cons and the establishment press have done their job effectively.

    February 19, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. IKHAN

    So what's new?

    Israel, India, North Korea,Pakistan are nuclear states. So are France , China, Russia ,G.Britain & US.

    Can we have a nuclear weapons free world??

    February 19, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. knormb

    Was "How in the heck would I know?" one of the choices for the survey takers? It should have been. A stupid survey question...

    February 19, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Really? What evidence do these 71% of Americans have that Iran has nuclear weapons? Polls are interesting since its all in "how" the question is asked. Also, only 1023 of Americans were polled........ we have over 300 million. I realize that statistics is a math, but really....... 71% believe that Iran has nuclear weapons? 59% support military action?! Who did you talk to CNN?

    February 19, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Eric

    Wow, the percentage of Americans that are idiots is even higher than I thought. Certainly they are trying to get them, but anyone who has been even slightly paying attention knows they are years away from a warhead. It is scary how little the American public is interested in facts..

    February 19, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. sammieb51

    Maybe I am thinking this thru incorrectly - yesterday I saw on the news ticker "Biden says US nuclear arsenals need to be restocked". So am I wrong to have a big question mark as to why the US gets to have nuclear weapons and the Iranians, or anyone else for that matter, don't?

    February 19, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. chris l

    Hey CNN, Why don't you try to get a clue. Guess what, OBOZOS diplomacy and sanctions have completely failed. Actually while OBOZO was going around apologizing for America, writing letters to evil dictators, coming up with moronic catch phrases "we will extend a hand if you unclench your fist"–OBOZO, and basically promoting one failed idea after another all while giving Iran plenty of time to build its nuclear weapons. November cannot come soon enough. Its time to get all of the weak, pathetic anti American Radical Liberals out of Congress and back to the slum they slithered from. As far as the one and done snakeoil salesmen, LOL, fugeddaboutit!!!

    February 19, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Pete

    Leaving aside the logistical issue that with 2/3 of our military currently engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that starting a THIRD war would be impossible without bringing back a draft, there's a larger question that the 59% calling for war ought to address.

    With our current budget deficit and national debt crisis, how exactly would we PAY for this? You're asking a lot of people to give up their Social Security and Medicare in order for the US to launch a trillion dollar plus war with Iran that would be likely to escalate.

    February 19, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Hey O-blah-blah... why don't you just offer to sit down with I'm-a-dinner-jacket over a beer and talk things out? Oh wait...

    February 19, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Hilroy

    Is this a diversion from the assascination in that hotel in Dubai? What else is new?

    February 19, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    We know this guy is hoping to be attacked.Hes suicidal and hopes for ww3.

    February 19, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Jimmy James

    Our military option isn't realistic. Israel will do it long before we do. We need real sanctions. If China or Russia don't want to join in we should act in concert with nations like France, Germany and Great Britain and go towards a naval blockade of gasoline and other vital products. While Iran is a oil producing country, they have to import gasoline and other petroleum products because they lack refineries. I know that is extreme but Israel will not allow a country that threatens their destruction in every speech to have such a weapon. The alternative if Israel attacks will be a economic collapse worldwide not to mention the military action that will be required after the fact.

    February 19, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. El Gordo

    One hundred percent of all Americans should have answered, "There is no way I could possibly know. I don't know how a bomb is built and I don't know how many of those steps Iran has completed."

    As for the underpants bomber: This guy was not much of a threat. He might have killed a hundred passengers. However, on the same day more Americans that that will be murdered by other Americans. During that month, 1700 people died from the flu and 1300 Americans were murdered by other Americans (see Amy Bishop and Joseph Stack).

    We could save more Americans lives by enforcing seat belt laws than by purchasing underpants x-ray machines for our airports.

    February 19, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. NYCitizen

    We all have believed this for quite a while now CNN. You just catching on??!!

    February 19, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. NYCitizen

    And you, CNN, just realized this now?!

    February 19, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. Red by Choice

    Yes, I believe that Iran has nukes. Obama wants to negotiate with Amanutjob? Are you kidding? The US could negotiate with other countries with nukes because they were logical. This guy doesn't believe that Israel has a right to exist and the holocaust didn't happen. He sponsors terrorist groups. This is pretty scary stuff.

    I think it is time to break out the "War IS the answer" bumper stickers. We need to drop 30 or 40 GBU penetrators on all Iran’s nuke sites. It’s obvious that the sanctions aren’t working.

    To the UN and its newly released report I would say "Duh! You just figured that out? Why don’t you folks go back to your global warming “hard science”".

    February 19, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Steve

    Of course Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Why would they need to build nuclear reactors to produce energy when they have some of the largest oil reserves in the world? Iran has no shortage of energy resources. Their enrichment of uranium is for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons, and this shouldn't fool anyone. Israel has every right to defend itself against this belligerent regime, by launching a preemptive strike if necessary.

    February 19, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Papasan

    Americans also believe that the next stop for US Armed Forces is Iran...

    February 19, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. j

    I'm not convinced that Iran has nuclear weapons but even if they do, do they have the means to deliver? And even if they have the means to deliver, are they likely too?

    February 19, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. mjm

    Why else would they go nuclear? They don't have an energy demand that would warrant a nuclear power program. They want weapons.

    February 19, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. Ken in NC

    If this country really wants to eliminate this threat from Iran we need to send Sarah Palin over there. Let her talk to the government. That'll do it hehehe

    February 19, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
1 2 3