Latest poll shows plummeting domestic support Iran nuclear deal

11 November 2019 4 min. read
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A recent series of surveys in Iran released by research consultancy IranPoll have found ongoing falling support for the JCPOA, with distrust in the deal spreading.

Sentiment towards the JCPOA in Iran is growing increasingly sour as the months since the US reneged on the deal and imposed fresh sanctions continue into a second year. That’s according to the latest survey conducted by North America-based research and analysis consultancy IranPoll, which on behalf of the University of Maryland questioned over 3,000 Iranian respondents in three separate waves from the middle of April through to early October.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, commonly known as the Iran Nuclear deal) was initially struck in 2015 between Iran and the world’s leading powers, before the US abruptly withdrew from the pact in May of last year – with Iran effectively following suit in abandoning certain terms of the agreement last week. Prior to the latest developments, public support for the JCPOA had slipped to below 50 percent – for the first time since its enactment.

At the time of its announcement, more than three quarters of Iranian respondents were in favour of the JCPOA, with 43 percent strongly approving – a figure which by October this year had dropped to just 12 percent. Overall, a further 30 percent still ‘somewhat approve’, but general approval has been steadily diminishing since December last year (in fact, since the deal was signed), down from 51 percent then to 45 percent in August and now standing at just 42 percent.

Support for the JCPOA nuclear deal in Iran

Despite the early support, local confidence that the US would honour the deal was never particularly strong, at less than one half (45 percent) following shortly after its agreement, and then down to barely a quarter less than one year on (likely as the US presidential debate ratcheted up the rhetoric). Still, faith in the JCPOA’s other signatories – the P5+1, namely France, China, the UK and Russia together with Germany – remained strong. Until now.

In June of 2016, close to two thirds of local respondents believed the P5+1 countries would live up to their obligations under the deal, with that majority stance maintained until December of last year, when confidence levels were closely split 48 to 44 percent. The latest survey found that almost 70 percent now stood in the ‘not confident’ bracket, and this erosion of faith is leading to growing domestic pressure on the government to abandon its own commitments to the accord.

With opinions canvassed on what Iran should do “if other P5+1 countries remain committed to the agreement and try to maintain their trade relations with Iran despite US sanctions”, close to 60 percent of those surveyed said that the country should withdraw from the treaty (rising to nearly three quarters among younger generations), with under a third believing it should remain. Just 20 percent were opposed to the government’s current policy of incremental non-compliance.

Iran confidence that other countries will uphold the JCPOA nuclear deal

Over 40 percent meanwhile stated strong approval of the policy (and 74 percent overall) when the situation, as a retaliation against US withdrawal and sanctions, was summarised as follows: “Our government has exceeded some limits it accepted under the JCPOA and threatened to withdraw unless the other P5+1 do more to allow Iran to benefit from the agreement. The other P5+1 have responded that Iran’s recent actions make it more difficult for them to take the steps Iran is demanding.”

Perhaps as might be expected, the popular opinion of the United States has been somewhat dented in Iran as a result of its JCPOA withdrawal and subsequent provocations – with 73 percent of those polled now finding the nation very unfavourable and just 13 percent saying it was favourable or somewhat so, down from over 30 percent in 2015. As a contrast, 70 percent of citizens in Iran find Japan very or somewhat favourable, following Shinzo Abe’s diplomatic efforts.

These attitudes toward the US have also reduced support for a compromise. “Opposition to renegotiating provisions of the deal that the Trump administrations finds particularly objectionable have hardened since US withdrawal. Three quarters now oppose ending all enrichment under any circumstances.” the report states, with a concluding note: “The Iranians hardest hit by sanctions are no more supportive of concessions than the population as a whole.”