Most Iranians would give up nuclear program in exchange for removal of sanctions, poll shows

Survey, posted on website of a state-owned Iranian news station, quickly replaced with one about soccer

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

File: A technician in an oil field southwest of Tehran. (AP/Vahid Salemi)
File: A technician in an oil field southwest of Tehran. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Most Iranians would give up the advancement of their country’s nuclear program in exchange for a halt to the sanctions that the international community has imposed on the Islamic Republic, a recent online poll suggested — but the government in Tehran apparently does not want anybody to know that.

More than 60 percent of respondents to a survey posted Tuesday on an official state news site indicated they were in favor of stopping uranium enrichment in return for a gradual lifting of sanctions, according to Radio Free Europe. However, the poll has since been removed and “replaced by another poll about soccer, apparently after the results became apparent and received attention on social media,” the station’s Tehran-born Golnaz Esfandiari writes on her blog, Persian Letters.

‘What is [a nuclear program] good for when we don’t have food on our tables?’

Surfers on the website of the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN) were asked what method they preferred for facing “the unilateral Western sanctions against Iran.” Some 63 percent clicked on the first option: “Giving up uranium enrichment in return of the gradual removal of sanctions.” Twenty percent opted for “Retaliatory measure by closing the Strait of Hormuz” and 18 percent said they favored “Resistance against the unilateral sanctions for preserving nuclear rights.”

It is unclear how many people took part in the online poll before it was replaced, Esfandiari wrote. She cited a 30-year-old man in Tehran who told her that Iran should be allowed to have a nuclear program since scientific progress is definitely important, “but many are asking what is it good for when we don’t have food on our tables?”

IRINN is charging the BBC with hacking its website and changing the results of the poll, according to AP. A TV report Wednesday claimed that the actual percentage of respondents who favored an end to uranium enrichment was 24 percent, and that the rest favored retaliatory measures against the West. There was no immediate response from the BBC.

This Sunday, the European Union toughened its sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s oil industry. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged that “the sanctions imposed on our country are the strongest ones that have ever been applied against a country,” but called on his people to view the measure as “an opportunity to wean the country’s budget off its dependence on oil revenues.”

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