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Poll finds Iranians hate US.

A new poll shows Iranians overwhelmingly support their country having a nuclear program, strongly support President Rohani and his government, and firmly dislike the United States, believing its goal is to dominate Iran.

The poll was overseen by the Center for International & Security Studies at the University of Maryland with the telephone survey conducted 85 percent by the University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research and 15 percent by IranPoll.com, which is based in Toronto.

The polltakers were concerned that the people they reached might think the phone caller was from a regime security agency and that they would therefore only give the official line in order to keep out of trouble. But the polltakers said they found only 9 percent of all those in the poll gave answers fully in line with the government line. All the others provided at least one response that was the reverse of the official position.

The poll found overwhelming majorities of Iranians saying it is very important for Iran to have a nuclear program. Asked what was Iran's greatest achievement in recent years, 40 percent volunteered the nuclear program. In second place with 11 percent was increased security and military might. Asked later how important it was for Iran to keep its nuclear program going, 83 percent said "very important" and 11 percent "somewhat important." Only 4 percent said it wasn't important.

A large majority sees the program as driven purely by peaceful goals, though one in five sees it as being an effort to pursue nuclear weapons. A majority views the program as an important way for Iran to stand up to the West, though serving Iran's future energy and medical needs are seen as more important.

A large majority expressed opposition to nuclear weapons, with two-thirds saying nuclear weapons are contrary to Islam.

Given information about the nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and the Big Six, half the respondents said Iran should not agree to a deal unless the US lifts all of its sanctions, while nearly as many said Iran should be ready to make a deal even if the US retains some sanctions, provided all UN and EU sanctions are lifted. The removal of UN sanctions was seen as more important than the removal of US sanctions.

Majorities said they would expect to see, within a year, better access to foreign medicines and medical equipment, significantly more foreign investment, and a tangible improvement in living standards.

The sanctions on Iran are overwhelmingly perceived as having a negative impact on the country's economy--but domestic mismanagement and corruption are viewed as much more damaging than sanctions. A total of 64 percent named mismanagement and corruption as doing the greater harm to the Iranian economy while only 26 percent named sanctions,

President Rohani is clearly one of the strongest political figures in Iran. More than half would prefer to see Rohani supporters win in the February 2016 Majlis elections, while one-quarter favors his critics. Asked whom they would like to see win the next presidential election in 2017, almost half volunteered no name. Of those who picked a name, 46 percent chose Rohani, 16 percent named Mahmud Ahmadi-nejad, 11 percent selected Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, 7 percent former President Mohammad Khatami, 5 percent former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and 3 percent Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif. That showed a decided bias toward the left. Five conservative figures combined were named by fewer than 6 percent. They were Saeed Jalili, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, Ali Larijani, Ali-Akbar Velayati and Mohsen Rezai.

Views of the United States are very negative. Only 38 percent say US leaders genuinely believe Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Asked why the US is imposing sanctions on Iran, 69 percent of those who provide some explanation picked some variation of a desire to dominate Iran, suck out its natural resources or stop its advancement. Large majorities favor various confidence-building measures between Iran and the US, including greater trade. People-to-people confidence-building measures are especially popular. A 55 percent majority thinks that it is possible for Islam and the West to find common ground, while only 35 percent say that conflict between Islam and the West is inevitable.

Asked their views of specific foreign countries, none were thought well of. The countries that got the most "very favorable" replies were Iraq and Syria--but not even a third thought well of either of them. The most despised country was Saudi Arabia (59 percent "very unfavorable") with Britain and the United States not far behind, each at 53 percent "very unfavorable."

The poll also asked Iranians what city or country they would most like to visit. A total of 41 percent chose pilgrimage sites: Mecca/Medina, Karbala/Najaf and Mashhad. Some 15 percent named European locales and four percent named the United States or Canada.

The poll was based on 1,009 respondents reached by telephone during May. Respondents from all 31 provinces were included.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Jul 10, 2015
Words:822
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