August 11, 2017 | By Karl Friedhoff, Grace Kim

Americans Name North Korea's Nuclear Program a Top Threat

On August 9, North Korea stated it was considering a plan to fire four missiles towards Guam—a US territory—just a few hours after President Trump said he would respond with “fire and fury” to further North Korean threats. This came only days after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution to ban exports of key North Korean goods in response to two North Korean ICBM launches in July.

In the 2017 Chicago Council Survey, conducted from June 27 to July 19, 2017, the US public named North Korea’s nuclear program a top threat facing the country. Key findings include:

  • Three-quarters (75%) of Americans say North Korea’s nuclear program is a critical threat facing the country—up 15 percentage points from 2016 (60%). This makes it one of the top threats facing the United States.
  • If North Korea invaded South Korea, 62 percent of the American public would support using US troops to defend South Korea—up from 47 percent in 2016. This is the first time a majority has stated support since the question was first asked in 1990.
  • On dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program, a clear majority (76%) support imposing tighter sanctions on North Korea. Almost seven in ten (68%) also support imposing secondary sanctions on Chinese banks and companies doing business with North Korea.

 

Read the full survey brief here.

 

About the Chicago Council Survey

The analysis in this report is based on data from the 2017 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy. The 2017 Chicago Council Survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide online research panel between June 27 and July 19, 2017 among a weighted national probability sample of 2,020 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ±2.4 percentage points.

The 2017 Chicago Council Survey is made possible by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Korea Foundation, and the personal support of Lester Crown and the Crown Family.

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

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