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Pew: A Global 'No' To a Nuclear-Armed Iran: Divisions on Sanctions and Use of Force

May 18, 2012

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A Pew Research Center report reveals growing opposition to the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran, but finds that nations still support imposing tougher economic sanctions versus military intervention.

A 21-nation Pew Global Attitudes survey finds widespread opposition to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. And in most countries, there is majority support among opponents of a nuclear-armed Iran for international economic sanctions to try to stop Tehran's weapons program. The Chinese and the Russians are notable dissenters in this regard. The poll also found majorities in Western Europe and the United States disposed to taking military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Again, the Russians and Chinese disagreed.

The U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – known as the E3+3 – are currently negotiating with Iran in an effort to keep Tehran from crossing a threshold that would enable it to quickly produce a nuclear bomb. But there are differences between these negotiating partners in their opposition to the Iranian nuclear weapons program, in their support for economic sanctions and in their willingness to resort to the use of military force if necessary to blunt Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Nine-in-ten people or more among the transatlantic E3+3 partners oppose Iran's nuclear weapons aspiration. But just over half (54%) of Chinese agree. There are even greater differences among the negotiating partners over economic sanctions. Among those who oppose Tehran's nuclear armaments program, about eight-in-ten Americans, Germans and British back sanctions, but only 38% of Chinese and 46% of Russians are in agreement.

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