Poll: Europeans oppose Iran strike

Only 4% of Germans, 6% of French back preemptive use of force against Teheran.

By GEORGE CONGER
September 25, 2006 02:25
3 minute read.
Poll: Europeans oppose Iran strike

iran nuclear good 298 ap. (photo credit: AP Photo/IKONOS satellite image courtesy of GeoEye)

 
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Support for a preemptive military strike against Iran's nuclear weapons facilities if Teheran continues to produce nuclear fuel finds support in Iraq, Israel and the US, according to a new survey published by the BBC. However, public opinion in 25 countries finds limited global support for the military option, with only 17% of respondents surveyed backing aggressive action. Over 34% of Iraqis, 30% of Israelis, and 21% of Americans surveyed in June by Globescan and the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes support a military action if "Iran continues to produce nuclear fuel" in defiance of the United Nations Security Council. Support for a military response finds almost no support in Europe, with less than 3% of Russians, and 4% of Germans, 6% of the French, or 8% of the UK backing force, the survey released by the BBC last week said. While the US refuses to rule out any option in dealing with Iran, the dilemma facing policy makers in Washington and London was summed up by the UK's foreign minister for the Middle East, Kim Howells on September 13. Speaking to a parliamentary committee Howells said he could not "see a military way through this. I am not sure even that there is an easy way for the UN to impose sanctions." While opinions on what to do about Iran are sharply divided, few believe Teheran's protestations that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only. Worldwide, 60% believed Iran is "trying to produce nuclear weapons." In the US and Israel over 83% hold this opinion, as do a majority of South Koreans (76%), Italians (74%), and Brazilians (72%). In three nations, significant minorities believe Iran's nuclear interests are benign: Iraq, 38%, Egypt, 38%, and Indonesia, 35%. However, even in these three, substantially more believe Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons; Iraq, 60%, Egypt, 54%, and Indonesia, 47%. Among all of the nations surveyed, Iraq showed the greatest internal divisions over how to respond to Iran. Over 65% of Iraqis said they were very concerned or somewhat concerned if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, while 14% said they were "not at all concerned." No consensus exists as to how to deal with the nuclear threat, the survey found. Less than 10% believe no action should be taken in response to the Iranian nuclear program, 39% favor diplomatic initiatives only, 30% endorse economic sanctions, and only 11% support a "military strike against facilities." The US, Iraq and Israel reported the greatest support for aggressive actions: with 21% of Americans supporting a military strike and 45% preferring economic sanctions, Iraq 34% backing military strikes and 29% sanctions, and Israel 30% endorsing military strikes and 32% sanctions. The survey of 27,407 adults in 25 countries was conducted from May through July, and before the conflict in Lebanon. Generally, Muslim and European nations favored a non-aggressive approach, with 73% of Egyptians, 72% of Indonesians and 60% of Turks favoring diplomacy or no action. Evidence that Iran has successfully split the Americans from the other great powers comes in the strength of a passive response to its nuclear ambition among the G5+1, 57% of Chinese, 54% of French and 53% of Britons, and 48% of Russians and Germans back a non-confrontational response. "Diplomats have their work cut out for them," Globescan president Doug Miller said. The poll "reveals a world-wide mandate for stricter international controls of nuclear fuels that could be used in weapons," but no clear way to implement it. "Clearly world opinion rejects Iran's claim that it is trying to develop nuclear energy" and not weapons, Steven Kull of the University of Maryland said. "But at this point the world public favors addressing the problem through diplomacy rather than a confrontational approach," he concluded.

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