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As Iran and the United States Negotiate, Both Publics Support Original JCPOA

Running Numbers by Luke Witzig
Iran deal talks in Vienna, 2021

As the United States and Iran work on a path back to the Iran nuclear deal, what do Americans and Iranians think about the agreement?

On Tuesday, April 6, the United States and Iran agreed to establish two working groups aimed at bringing both countries back into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. After indirect meetings with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) members, all parties agreed to create two working groups: one focused on lifting US economic sanctions and another focused on Iran’s compliance with the agreement’s nuclear enrichment and stockpile limitations. Iranian officials say they can comply with these limitations quickly but insist that they want the United States to lift its sanctions first. Washington, on the other hand, wants Iran to return to compliance first.

A recent survey analysis from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and IranPoll show that although support for the agreement has diminished over time, a large portion of American and Iranian publics still support the JCPOA. Nearly six in ten Americans (57%) favor US participation in the deal that lifts some international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for strict limits on nuclear weapons. Backing, however, is heavily determined by party affiliation. A majority of Democrats (74%) express support for the agreement compared to a minority of Republicans (39%). Notably, four in ten Americans (39%) stated opposition to US participation, including a majority of Republican respondents (58%).

In Iran, support for the deal is on the rise, with just over half (51%) approving of the JCPOA, up from 44 percent approval in October 2020. Significantly, survey results suggest an even greater approval from Iranians under the condition that the United States upholds its end of the bargain. Seven in ten Iranians (69%) say they mostly support Iran returning to the limits called for under the JCPOA if the United States fulfills its JCPOA obligations. Despite this high approval, Iranians are not confident in US commitments. A majority of Iranians (60%) think it is unlikely that the United States will live up to its obligations, even if it does return to the Iran agreement. This is understandable given the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the original deal in 2018.

Public opinion indicates that the two countries’ recent decision to explore a path back to compliance under the JCPOA will likely be received positively by its citizens.

For more details on American and Iranian public opinion on the JCPOA, check out the Chicago Council and IranPoll’s recent report.

About the Author
Luke Witzig
Public Opinion Intern