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United Nations

Dealing With Iran

Americans favor the UN taking the lead in dealing with Iran's nuclear program. Though a majority endorses the right of the UN Security Council to use force to prevent a country from acquiring nuclear weapons, only a minority favors doing so at this time. The most popular approach is to impose economic sanctions. Nonetheless, a large majority is pessimistic over whether the UN can stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.

Americans favor the UN taking the lead in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. Pew asked three times throughout the course of 2006 whether respondents would favor the US or the UN taking the lead with handling Iran’s nuclear program. Seven in ten or more respondents (70-78%) believed that the United Nations should take the lead, while only a small minority (17-21%) believed that the US should take the lead.[1] Given more options in the June 2006 GMF poll, a plurality said that the United Nations (36%) could best handle the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons. Only 22% chose the United States, while even fewer chose the other multi-national organizations of NATO (18%) and the European Union (13%).[2]

As discussed above, a majority believes that the UN Security Council has the right to use military force to prevent a country from acquiring nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, only a minority favors using military force at this time. Given a number of actions that the UN Security Council could take in the event that Iran continues to produce nuclear fuel in defiance of the UN request (in a BBC/GlobeScan/PIPA June 2006 poll) just one in five (21%) believed the UNSC should "authorize a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities."

The most popular option is to impose economic sanctions. In the BBC/GlobeScan/PIPA poll a plurality (45%) believed that the UNSC should impose economic sanctions, while nearly a quarter (24%) said that it should use only diplomatic efforts.[3] An even larger number would approve if the UN were to do so. Asked in a May 2006 Pew poll if they would favor or oppose “The UN and other leading nations placing tough economic sanctions on Iran” 64% said they would favor it while just 25% were opposed.[4]

Despite the preference for the United Nations to take the lead in dealing with Iran, a majority does not have confidence that it will succeed in handling the situation. As of April 2006, Gallup and Fox News polls found a significant majority (67% and 59%) that was not confident in the UN's ability to handle the situation with Iran's nuclear program. This was an even greater majority that did not have confidence in the UN than when the question was first asked in January and February 2006, when 49-51% said they were not confident that the UN could handle the situation. Only one in three (33-36%) was confident in the UN's ability to handle the situation as of April.[5]

Furthermore, a majority does not believe that the United Nations can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. A May 2006 Fox News poll found nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents that doubted the UN's ability to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.[6]


 

 

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