A CNN/ Gallup poll shows that nearly three quarters of Americans believe that Iran already has a nuclear weapon. (About 80% believe that it either has one or will get one in short order).
This belief is completely irrational. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has repeatedly said that the US believes that Iran has not decided yet whether to initiate a nuclear weapons program. If it doesn’t have a weapons program, Iran can hardly actually have a weapon.
Iran is using centrifuges to enrich uranium, mostly to 3.5% for fuel for its electricity-generating civilian reactors (it is enriching to still-low 19.75% for a medical reactor, to produce isotopes for use in chemotherapy).. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has given a fatwa, based on the injunction in Islamic law against killing innocents, against possessing or using atomic weapons.
Two caveats about this poll. That question was asked of a subset of only 500 persons within a larger sample. But that would mean it could be off in either direction by several percentage points. It is a weighted sample, though, and shouldn’t be off that much.
The other puzzlement is that 63% of Americans are committed to using diplomacy to dissuade Iran from getting a bomb and oppose military action at this time. But if they think it has a bomb, what do they think the persuasion will accomplish. Convincing Iran to give up its (non-existent) nukes after already developing them?
The full results are in this pdf file.
Sometimes you just want to give up. The American public is bombarded with so much propaganda by vested interests that it lives in a world where human beings co-existed with the dinosaurs, Iran has nukes, US foreign aid is 1/4 of the federal budget, the Iraqi and Afghanistan governments are among America’s most deadly enemies, and pumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not causing the climate to change.
But who knows, maybe their preference for diplomacy is because they don’t want to go to war with an already-nuclear armed Iran, so that the propaganda has backfired on Big Oil and the Israel lobbies.