NEW YORK – Despite distrusting Iran, many Americans think the United States should try to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear plans — even if it refuses to meet the condition of first suspending its uranium enrichment program.
Almost all Americans distrust Iran (87 percent), and more than half (54 percent) think Tehran cannot be stopped from building a nuclear bomb, according to the latest FOX News national poll.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from June 13 to June 14. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Even so, the public wants the United States to participate in diplomatic talks over Iran’s nuclear program.
The United States has agreed to join talks with Iran provided Tehran first stops its uranium-enrichment activities. So far Iran has refused to stop enriching uranium as a condition of the negotiations.
A 59 percent majority says the United States should go forward with negotiations regardless of whether Iran stops enriching uranium, including majorities of both Democrats (64 percent) and Republicans (55 percent). Overall, less than a third oppose proceeding with negotiations (30 percent).
“It is notable that the issue of Iran negotiations achieves a bipartisan consensus that is almost unheard of these days,” said John Gorman, chairman of Opinion Dynamics. “Clearly the costs and frustrations of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan have made people across the political spectrum more inclined to look at negotiation as the way out. The public appetite for more war is miniscule.”
By a 54 percent to 35 percent margin, the poll finds voters think the Bush administration is taking the right actions on Iran.
As is the case on the president’s overall job rating, political leanings play a large role in views on the administration’s handling of Iran. Among Republicans, 76 percent think the administration is taking the right actions, while only 38 percent of Democrats think so. Among independents, 51 percent approve.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a member of the administration seen as a key player in the negotiations with Iran, currently has a job-approval rating of 58 percent, which is about where her approval has been since December.
If Iran gets nuclear weapons, the poll finds that many Americans are concerned about attacks on the United States and Israel, but the greater concern is Iran supplying nukes to terrorists.
Fully 91 percent say they are concerned about Iran supplying nuclear weapons to terrorists, including 72 percent who say they are “very” concerned.
In addition, 85 percent are concerned a nuclear Iran will attack Israel (56 percent “very” concerned) and 73 percent that the United States will be attacked (45 percent “very” concerned).
The portion concerned about an attack on the United States is unchanged from January.
At that time, 73 percent of Americans said they were concerned Iran would attack the United States if it obtained nuclear weapons (47 percent “very” concerned).
Finally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made several anti-Semitic comments, such as denying the Holocaust ever happened and suggesting Israel should be wiped off the map.
Do Americans think most Iranian citizens agree? Some (29 percent) say yes, Iranians probably agree with President Ahmadinejad’s controversial statements, but a slim 53 percent majority thinks Iranians disagree with their president.