Most support nuclear program despite sanctions
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A majority of Iranians (56%) say sanctions the United Nations, the U.S., and Western Europe imposed have hurt Iranians' livelihoods a great deal, and an additional 29% say sanctions have hurt somewhat, according to a Gallup survey conducted in Iran in December 2012. Separately, 48% say sanctions have affected their own personal livelihoods a great deal and another 35% say somewhat.
Over the years, international sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran's economy and people. Since the U.S. first acted to freeze Iranian assets in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, then again under President Ronald Reagan in 1987, the U.S. has been leading efforts to use military and economic sanctions in an attempt to influence the country's policies.
For the past decade, the U.S., U.N., and other nations have used sanctions to target Iran's nuclear capabilities program. The U.N. specifically has since 2006 worked to isolate Iran from crucial gas and oil markets worldwide. Last year, the European Union adopted an oil embargo against Iran, which is costing the country $4 to $8 billion per month. Consequently, 2012 was a disastrous economic year for Tehran: Oil and gas exports provide roughly 50% of Iran's government revenue, but by October of last year, the country's oil exports had dropped by more than 40%. During the first week of that same month, the country saw its currency devalue by 40% from the previous week's value.
President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law a new round of sanctions that aim to further isolate Iran from the global economy by targeting its energy and media sectors. The Obama administration has imposed the toughest sanctions Iran has ever faced. For an oil-producing country that strategically sits between East and West, the sanctions will no doubt limit Iran's role in the global economy.
Iranians' Well-Being Low Amid Sanctions
The effect of sanctions on Iran appears to go beyond macroeconomic factors: Iranians' well-being is low. Thirty-one percent of Iranians rated their lives poorly enough to be considered "suffering" in 2012 -- one of the highest rates in the greater Middle East North Africa region. In fact, countries with comparable suffering rates either are at war such as Afghanistan or are experiencing a period of severe instability such as Egypt and Tunisia.
Gallup classifies respondents as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from zero to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.
Iran is also on par with far less developed countries such as Niger, Haiti, and Afghanistan on Gallup's Payroll to Population measure of employment. In addition, Iranians' views on various other economic issues worsened in 2012. By December of 2012, 74% of Iranians described "now" as a "bad time" to find a job, which is up from 66% in January of that same year.
Despite Effects of Sanctions, Many Iranians Support Nuclear Program
The majority of Iranians are so far seemingly willing to pay the high price of sanctions. Sixty-three percent say that Iran should continue to develop its nuclear program, even given the scale of sanctions imposed on their country because of it. In December, one in two Iranians supported their country developing its own nuclear power capabilities for nonmilitary uses.
Iranians Hold U.S. Most Responsible for Sanctions
Iranians are most likely to hold the U.S. (47%) responsible for the sanctions against Iran. One in 10 Iranians says their own government is most to blame for sanctions.
Iranians report feeling the effect of sanctions, but still support their country's efforts to increase its nuclear capabilities. This may indicate that sanctions alone are not having the intended effect of persuading Iranian residents and country leaders to change their stance on the level of international oversight of their nuclear program. Iran, as one of the most populous nations in a region undergoing monumental shifts, will remain a key country in the balance of power for the Middle East. Thus, the United States', Russia's, and Europe's relationship with the Iranian people remains a matter of strategic interest. The effect of sanctions on Iranians' livelihoods and the blame they place on the U.S. will continue to be a major challenge for the U.S. in Iran and in neighboring countries such as Iraq. Recent reports that Tehran and Washington might enter into direct talks were short-lived when Iran's supreme leader made a statement strongly rejecting them. With Iran preparing for elections later this year, a turning point is needed to get leaders on both sides out of the current stalemate on the country's nuclear program.
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Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Dec. 16, 2012-Jan. 10, 2013, in Iran. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.8 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.