WASHINGTON -- The public in many European and Middle Eastern countries supports stronger economic sanctions and even military action against Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions, according to a poll of opinion in 21 countries released Friday by the Pew Research Center.
Despite a deep weariness with the war in Afghanistan, pluralities in Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic would support military action against Iran, the poll found. In Germany, where there has been strong public pressure for an end to the Afghan war, 50% of respondents favor military action to halt Iran’s nuclear program, with 41% opposed.
Majorities in the Middle Eastern nations of Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon also supported military action. In that region, the poll found a religious split, with 74% of Shiite Muslims interviewed supporting Iran’s suspected ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons, but 94% of Sunnis opposed. Iran is ruled by Shiite clerics.
Iran’s economy is reeling from existing sanctions, and the public in many countries is ready for ratcheting them tighter, the poll found. Stronger sanctions had lopsided support in Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.
The poll found much more resistance to sanctions or military action in Russia and China, which are working with Western countries in seeking to negotiate an end to the Iranian nuclear program.
Seventy-seven percent of Russians surveyed opposed Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, but only 46% favored more economic sanctions and 24% military action. Fifty-four percent of Chinese respondents oppose Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb, but 38% would favor more sanctions and 30% military action.
The poll found Americans ready both for sanctions and military action. Sixty-three percent of Americans supported military action and 80% tougher sanctions.
The poll was taken from March 17 to April 20 as part of Pew’s Global Attitudes Project.
-- Paul Richter
Photo: An Iranian security guard is seen outside the Bushehr nuclear power plant in 2010. Credit: Vahid Salemi / Associated Press