BERLIN – Iran’s state television news published an online poll Tuesday in which 63 percent of respondents would abandon Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Golnaz Esfandiari, a Radio Free Europe senior correspondent, reported that the results were quickly removed from the Iranian network’s website. Esfandiari posted screenshots and translations of the poll’s questions.

The station asked, “What method do you prefer for facing the unilateral Western sanctions against Iran?” and listed the following choices: Giving up uranium enrichment in return for the gradual removal of sanctions; closing the Strait of Hormuz; or resistance against the unilateral sanctions to preserve nuclear rights.

Twenty percent of respondents preferred closure of the strait and 18% embraced resistance against international sanctions. A clear majority sought to pull the plug on nuclear development in exchange for sanctions relief.

Saba Farzan, a German-Iranian expert and author on the Islamic Republic, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday: “For nearly a decade the Iranian regime and its apologists around the globe have created a myth that Iran’s civil society stands behind the regime’s nuclear program. Now, that myth has been fortunately buried once and forever – ironically through a poll the Iranian regime established itself.

“Journalists like myself and many other writers, scholars and intellectuals have raised over the past years several aspects that already indicated how much the Iranian civil society is in opposition to this nuclear weapons program,” Farzan wrote.

She said Iranians reject the nuclear program “because it is clandestine in method and military in nature, because while the regime enriches uranium the country is slowly going to pieces. And ultimately because nuclear energy is not something Iranians are or want to be proud of. How many more clear signs does the world community need to accept and support Iran’s civil society as a solution to the dangerous threat this illegitimate regime poses?”

After the poll was deleted from the site, the news outlet claimed the BBC had hacked its website and added phony survey numbers to the results. The BBC said this was patently false.

In view of Iranian draft legislation to close the Hormuz Strait to oil tankers, Omid Memarian wrote on The Daily Beast website on Wednesday that in Iran, “hardliners are testing public opinion on the drastic move – and the online results suggest Iranians have grown weary of the saber rattling.”

He cited another survey on the state news website, which questioned Iranians about their support for the parliament’s proposal to close the strait. He wrote, “It might have been surprising for Iranian officials that until 9 p.m. Tehran time Tuesday, only 11% of participants said they approved of the closure of the Hormuz Strait by Iran, while 89% said they opposed it.”

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