A strong majority of Iranians want their country to continue to develop its nuclear program, despite the burdensome effect of Western sanctions, according to a Gallup poll published Thursday.
The West has pursued a strategy of international sanctions against Tehran in a bid to halt its illicit nuclear program. Though the approach has led to a fall in the standing of Iran's currency, the rial, and a drop in the Iranian GDP, Iran has repeatedly indicated that it has no intention of slowing nuclear research.
Asked whether or not Iran should continue to develop its nuclear power capabilities, 63 percent of Iranian adults responded in the affirmative, while only 17% said the country should stop. 19% either refused to answer or responded that they did not know.
The data is particularly striking considering that most Iranians believe that sanctions are indeed greatly affecting the livelihoods of ordinary citizens.
According to the survey, conducted from December 2012 to January 2013, 56% of respondents said sanctions had hurt Iranians "a great deal," 29% answered "somewhat," while only 10% answered "not at all" (5% did not know or refused to answer.)
Furthermore, 31% of Iranians rated their lives poorly enough to be considered "suffering" - a rate on par with war-torn countries such as Afghanistan (33%) and higher than Iraq (29%) and Yemen (23%.)
Though the majority of Iranians seem to be willing to pay the price of sanctions, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Thursday once again urged Iran to reconsider its stance on nuclear development. "The burden of these sanctions could be eased if they made a decision to engage with us substantively," she said, adding a threat to "increase pressure" if Tehran refused to negotiate.
In Cairo for an Islamic summit earlier in the week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admitted that the Iranian economy had been affected by sanctions, but this was not enough to stop him from offering aid to cash-strapped Egypt. "I have said previously that we can offer a big credit line to the Egyptian brothers, and many services," Ahmadinejad told the Egyptian daily al-Ahram in an interview.
With a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points, the poll also indicated that a plurality of Iranians blame the United States for the sanctions. 47% of respondents said Washington is "most responsible" for the sanctions, while only 10% blamed the Iranian regime. 9% blamed Israel.
The results of the poll, which was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, indicate that sanctions are not having the intended effect of pressuring Iranians to demand a change in policy vis-à-vis the country's nuclear program.