United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

U.S. Poll: 83 Percent See Iran as Top Threat

            About 83 percent of Americans ranked Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions as the greatest threats to U.S. interests, according to a new poll by Gallup. The development of nuclear weapons by the two nations tied for the top spot on a list of nine potential threats.
            Democrats and Republicans largely shared their concern about  North Korea. But 12 percent more Republicans than Democrats viewed Iran’s development of nuclear weapons as a critical threat. The most significant partisan split was on Islamic fundamentalism. About 70 percent of Republicans viewed it as a critical threat, while only 46 of Democrats did. The following are excerpts from the survey, with a link to the full report at the end.  


This year's poll marked the first time Gallup asked about North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons specifically. In 2010 Gallup asked about the two countries' "military power," and found 61% rating each as a critical threat to the United States, second only to international terrorism. In 2004, the "spread of weapons of mass destruction to unfriendly powers" ranked second only to terrorism. Thus, Americans have previously seen North Korea and Iran, and nuclear weapons in general, as serious threats to the U.S….
 
Americans' assessments of North Korean nuclear ambitions as a critical threat to the United States vary little by subgroup, including by party identification. However, that is not the case for most of the other international matters, including Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say most of the matters are critical threats. The greatest party differences are in regard to Islamic fundamentalism, viewed as a threat by 70% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats...

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