Majorities of Americans not only think nuclear war is likely between India and Pakistan, but also that their possession of nuclear weapons represents a threat to U.S. citizens.
As tensions in the region have escalated recently and Pakistan has refused to declare a "no first strike" policy, the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics national poll shows that 60 percent think nuclear war between India and Pakistan is likely. Twenty-two percent say "very likely" and 38 percent say "somewhat likely."
Similar numbers are seen when Americans were asked about the threat these weapons represent to citizens here at home. A majority (61 percent) thinks India and Pakistan having nuclear weapons is a real threat to Americans (27 percent disagree).
"It normally takes an awful lot to get Americans interested in a foreign dispute that does not directly relate to old Cold War tensions or homeland security," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "The prospect of nuclear war has clearly caught their attention and raised significant concerns."
Americans are unclear what effect it would have on the country if India and Pakistan did attack each other with nuclear weapons. Respondents were almost evenly split on whether the fallout from a nuclear weapons attack between the two countries would kill U.S. residents (37 percent said "yes," 39 percent "no").
Using computer modeling, the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that a full-scale nuclear exchange could leave 30 million Indians and Pakistanis dead. The group did not make an estimate of the long-term deaths from radiation.
Polling was conducted by telephone June 4-5, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.
1. How likely do you think nuclear war is between India and Pakistan?
2. Do you think the fact that India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons represents a threat to citizens in the United States?
3. If India and Pakistan attacked each other with nuclear weapons do you think the nuclear fallout would kill people in the United States?