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IRAN: European, U.S. leaders more likely to accept a nuclear Iran than their citizens

March 16, 2011 |  9:12 am

U.S. and European politicians are more likely to accept a nuclear Iran to avoid military confrontation than their citizens are, a new survey has found. The "Transatlantic Trends: Leaders" study was commissioned by the German Marshall Fund to gauge the opinions and priorities of leaders on both sides of the Atlantic and their citizens.

The study found that should all nonmilitary means fail in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, 50% of U.S. leaders and 51% of European leaders were ready to accept a nuclear Iran. But 62% of the American public and 46% of the European public were in favor of military action.

The study found, however, that Europeans and Americans differed on how they thought Iran should be dissuaded from pursuing its nuclear program.

"Of the nonmilitary options, there was a clear transatlantic 'carrot vs. stick' divide when it came to methods of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," the report read. "While a plurality of the EU public (35%) and the EU leaders (48%) favored offering economic incentives to Iran, pluralities of the US public (41%) and US leaders (33%) preferred economic sanctions."

The survey also found that Americans in general viewed Turkey's ascension to the European Union more positively than did Europeans and were much more likely to see Turkey as sharing common Western values. U.S. leaders thought easing tensions in the Middle East was a higher priority than did the American public, but the American public was the only group that showed some optimism regarding the stabilization of Afghanistan.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

 Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tours the Natanz, Iran, nuclear facility. Credit: AFP