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Most Iranians Say Sanctions Hurting Their Livelihoods

Most Iranians Say Sanctions Hurting Their Livelihoods

by Jay Loschky

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With talks between major powers and Iran set to resume Thursday in Geneva, most Iranians are continuing to feel squeezed by sanctions. More than four in five (85%) in Iran now say international sanctions have hurt their own livelihoods, including 50% who say they have been hurt a great deal. A higher percentage of Iranians say sanctions have hurt the livelihood of Iranians as a people overall.


Despite the perceived economic toll, two in three (68%) Iranians say their country should continue to develop nuclear power despite the scale of sanctions against Iran. This higher support in the face of international pressure highlights the role Iranian nationalism plays in the nuclear standoff with the West. Support is lower when Iranians are asked if they approve or disapprove of their country developing nuclear capabilities for military (34%) and non-military purposes (56%).

Iranians hold the U.S. chiefly responsible for the sanctions, with nearly half of Iranians (46%) pinning these sanctions on the U.S. Another 13% consider their own government most responsible, followed by 9% who blame Israel, and 6% each who blame Western European countries and the United Nations.


Iranians' blame has been similarly placed each time Gallup has asked this question in 2012 and 2013. Looking at the combined results of the two surveys, Iranians who blame their own government are significantly less likely than those who blame external actors to say that Iran should continue to develop nuclear power in the face of continued sanctions (39% vs. 76%).

Bottom Line

Though U.S. and European Union sanctions targeting Iran are aimed at deterring the country's leadership from pursuing nuclear weapons, everyday Iranians believe sanctions are making their lives considerably harder. In the past, the international community has wielded sanctions as a blunt instrument. In the 1990s, U.N. sanctions against Iraq were widely believed to have contributed to a humanitarian disaster in that country, a situation that U.S. policymakers say they are keen to avoid in Iran.

Still, while tough sanctions put in place in early 2012 made allowances for humanitarian relief, the country's near inability to import and export many goods has taken a toll on the economy and has begun to negatively affect many Iranians' ability to provide for their families.

Recent efforts in the U.S. Senate to push for fresh sanctions against Iran have bumped up against the wishes of Obama administration officials who do not want to jeopardize the next round of negotiations in Geneva. Iran should be an energy superpower as it is in possession of the world's second-largest natural gas reserves and fourth-largest oil reserves. However, since early 2012, economic sanctions have reduced Iran's oil exports by 60%. The U.S. Senate bill under consideration seeks to cut Iran's oil exports by another half in the next year.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 4,507 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Dec. 16, 2011-Jan. 10, 2012; Nov. 6- Dec. 11, 2012; and May 24-June 6, 2013. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±2.8 to ±4 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.

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