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POLITICS: PennAve

Poll: Americans distrust Iran but back nuclear deal by 2-to-1 margin

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,President,Iran,Polls,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Nuclear Weapons,Foreign Policy

A new poll finds Americans back the U.S.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran by a two-to-one margin as President Obama looks to rally support among skeptical lawmakers.

The Reuters/Ipsos survey released late Tuesday finds 44 percent of Americans support the deal, with 22 percent opposing.

The poll also finds a reluctance to use military force against Iran if the deal falls through.

Forty-nine percent say the U.S. should increase sanctions if the agreement unravels, with 31 percent urging more diplomacy. Only 20 percent back military action against Iran.

"This absolutely speaks to war fatigue, where the American appetite for intervention -- anywhere -- is extremely low," said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

But the poll finds Americans distrust Iran, with 63 percent saying the country's nuclear program is for developing weapons.

That is also matched by strong public support for Israel, with 50 percent saying the U.S. should use its military power to defend Israel no matter the threat with 31 percent opposing.

Members of the P5+1 -- consisting of the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China -- reached a deal with Iran that would see Tehran freeze some elements of its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some sanctions.

The plan lays the groundwork for further talks aimed at a comprehensive solution to Iran's nuclear program. Tehran says its program is for peaceful energy purposes, but key powers fear Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

The deal though has been met with skepticism on Capitol Hill, where a bipartisan Senate group says they will push ahead with additional sanctions on Iran.

Critics argue the deal does little to block Iran from building a bomb and threatens to undermine the international sanctions regime.

The administration has asked lawmakers to hold off and allow more time for diplomacy, arguing that further sanctions could undermine the accord.

President Obama hailed the deal as a "first step" and said it was the first time in a decade that Iran's nuclear work had been halted.

Obama on Monday hit back at critics, saying that "tough talk and bluster" are not enough to protect America's security.

“We cannot close the door on diplomacy and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world problems,” said Obama. “Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically but it's not the right thing for our security.”

The president though also faces a hard sell abroad, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasting the accord as a "historic mistake."

Obama spoke by Netanyahu by phone, reassuring the Israeli leader that he is committed to preventing a nuclear-armed Tehran.

The Iran debate comes as Obama struggles to fix troubles with the rollout of his signature health care reform law, and polls showing his approval rating hitting new lows.

Public support for his Iran stance though does not appear to have boosted the president's overall standing.

A separate Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll on Tuesday showed the president's approval rating at 38 percent, with a clear majority of 56 percent disapproving of his job performance.

The Reuters/Ipsos Iran poll was conducted from Nov. 24 to 26 and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

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