A large majority of Americans do not believe the United States should pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, according to a CNN poll published Friday.
The survey — whose publication comes after US President Donald Trump announced earlier this month he would not recertify the nuclear accord and would be open to scrapping it if Congress does not sufficiently address the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile activity and support for subversive actors in the region — revealed major partisan disagreement on whether the US should remain committed to the agreement.
While 67 percent of Americans overall said the US should not withdraw from the nuclear deal, with 27% in favor of leaving the accord, 80% percent of Democrats said the US should remain in the agreement, with only 13% supporting abandoning the deal.
Among Republicans, meanwhile, opinion was evenly split on whether the US should stay in the nuclear pact, with 48% of Republicans saying the US should remain in the agreement and 47% saying the US should leave.
“As you may know, the United States and five other countries entered an agreement with Iran aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” said the question posed to 1,010 respondents by SSRS, a research company. “Do you think the US should or should not withdraw from that agreement?” The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.
The feelings of Independents on whether the US should stay in the deal mirrored that of the general population, with 67% saying the US should remain in the agreement and 27% saying it should leave.
While 69% said Iran poses a serious threat to the US, only three out of every 10 respondents said the Islamic Republic is a “very serious” threat to America, which was down from 49% in September 2015, shortly after the deal was reached.
Republicans and Democrats were also split on their feelings toward the threat level Iran constitutes towards the US, with 45% of Republicans saying Iran is a very serious threat, as opposed to only 26% of Democrats.
While Republican lawmakers have largely expressed support for Trump’s stance towards the nuclear deal and are working on legislation to further limit Iran’s nuclear program, namely by cracking down on its ballistic missile development, Democratic politicians have by and large spoken out in favor of keeping the deal reached under former Democratic president Barack Obama, including many who criticized the accord after it was finalized.
With the notable exception of Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed support for Trump’s decision and called for altering the deal or abandoning it, American allies in Europe have voiced their continued support for the agreement.
Iran has strongly spoke out against the US president’s decision, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying on Wednesday his country would continue to adhere to the accord and calling Trump’s criticism of the deal “rants and whoppers.”
The attitudes in the poll represent a marked shift from public skepticism of the deal when Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, presented it to the public two years ago. Support in those days scored as low as in the 20s.
SSRS over eight years has asked respondents to rate four countries — Iran, Russia, Cuba and North Korea — as threats to the United States. The perception of Iran as a threat has diminished in recent years: The high of 49 percent who viewed the country as a “very serious” threat was in September 2015, when the Obama administration was rolling out the deal.
The most serious threat perceived in the current poll is North Korea, which 62 percent of respondents rated a “very serious” threat. The Trump administration and the North Korean government have exchanged threats of a nuclear attack in recent months.