Poll: If talks fail, Americans back military strike on Iran

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 6, 2009 

WASHINGTON -- A solid majority of Americans support direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program, but a similar majority also support military strikes if necessary to stop the country from getting a nuclear weapon, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found 63 percent of Americans approve of direct negotiations with Iran, seemingly endorsing Barack Obama’s pledge as a candidate to meet with Iran or any other rogue nation. Another 28 percent oppose talks with Iran.

Diplomats from the US and five other countries met with counterparts from Iran last week in Switzerland, the highest level talks with the country in three decades.

But Americans are skeptical about the prospects -- 64 percent say the talks will not succeed at getting Iran to stop its suspected work on a nuclear weapon while just 22 percent believe the talks will eventually pay off.

Assuming the talks do not work, 78 percent of Americans approve of tougher economic sanctions, while just 12 percent do not approve. Despite the majority support for sanctions, 56 percent of Americans don’t think those will work, either.

Finally, 61 percent say it’s critical to stop Iran, even if it takes military action, while 24 percent say it’s more important to avoid military action even if it means Iran becomes a nuclear power.

“There is broad willingness across the political spectrum to use military force to prevent Iran from going nuclear,” says the Pew report. The numbers:

--71 percent of Republicans support military action if necessary; --66 percent of independents; --51 percent of Democrats.

The poll of 1500 adults was conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 and included cell phones as well as landlines. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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