Chicago Council Survey Shows Americans Favor Iran Deal Backed by Force

November 13, 2014
Chicago, IL
As talks among U.S., EU and Iranian negotiators enter a critical stage, a new report of survey findings from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows Americans are in favor of the interim agreement for a temporary freeze on nuclear activity and a reduction of sanctions, which expires November 24. Americans also favor the use of military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons should the country violate the deal.

The report, based on findings from the 2014 Chicago Council Survey of American public opinion on foreign policy, finds six in ten Americans (62%) favor the interim agreement with Iran, and 69 percent support using U.S. troops to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Two-thirds say U.S. leaders should be ready to meet and talk with Iranian leaders.  

“Americans consider the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon to be one of the most critical threats facing the United States today,” said report author Dina Smeltz, senior fellow for public opinion and foreign policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Consequently, Iran’s nuclear program is also one of the few specific situations where the American public is willing to send U.S. troops to intervene abroad.”

Nearly six in ten Americans (58%) see the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon as a critical threat; another 38 percent believe it is an important threat to the United States.

"The public favors diplomacy when it comes to Iran, but they are prepared for the use of force," said Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder, president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "This arms American negotiators with the public's backing for a tough approach at the negotiating table."

Nearly 8 in 10 (77%) support continuing diplomatic efforts to end Iranian uranium enrichment. Should Iran commit “a major violation” of the agreement, a majority of Americans (60%) support the UN Security Council authorizing a military strike against Iran’s nuclear energy facilities. An additional 83 percent support the UN Security Council imposing tighter economic sanctions if Iran violates the deal.

This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Chicago Council Survey. The 2014 survey was made possible by generous support from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the United States-Japan Foundation and Chicago Council Chairman Lester Crown.

Data was collected between May 6 to May 29, 2014, among a national sample of 2,108 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ± 2.1 percentage points. The full dataset from this year’s study will be made available on the website in January 2015.