Poll: Americans Concerned about North Korean Nuclear Program

September 9, 2016

With concern rising about North Korea’s nuclear test yesterday, a majority of the American public—60 percent—continue to cite North Korea’s nuclear program as a critical threat to the United States, according to new polling data from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. This is an increase of five percentage points from 2015 and ranks the North Korean nuclear program second on a list of potential threats, trailing only international terrorism (which had 75 percent of Americans citing it as a critical threat). The poll was conducted June 10-27.

In terms of how to deal with the North Korean threat:

  • Eighty-one percent of Americans support continuing diplomatic efforts to get North Korea to suspend its nuclear program.
  • Eighty percent also support imposing tighter sanctions.
  • Fifty-three percent support for conducting cyberattacks against North Korea.
  • Kinetic options remain less favored, as they did in 2015. While 35 percent support airstrikes against North Korea’s nuclear production facilities, only 25 percent support sending U.S. troops to destroy those facilities.
  • Only 11 percent of Americans favor allowing North Korea to continue to produce nuclear weapons—the least supported option.


About the Chicago Council Survey
The analysis in this report is based on data from the 2016 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy. The 2016 Chicago Council Survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide online research panel between June 10-27, 2016 among a national sample of 2,061 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error ranges ±2.2 to ±3.5 percentage points, depending on the specific question.

The 2016 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.