August 11, 2005 | Press Release

Dramatic European Poll Results Demonstrate Unified Opposition to Iranian Nuclear Ambitions

Brussels – The European Foundation for Democracy (a partner of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies) today released poll results from France, the UK, Germany and Austria which demonstrate strong opposition by the public towards continued nuclear development by Iran. Majorities in all four countries believe that at least part of the reason for resumption of Iranian nuclear research is the development of nuclear weapons.

While Europeans currently prefer to apply diplomatic pressure to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, majorities or pluralities in all four countries support limited military action by NATO if Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon.

“Europeans are deeply concerned about the prospects of a nuclear armed Iran,” said Roberta Bonazzi, founder and director of the European Foundation of Democracy.  “Their concern reflects a belief Iran will use its nuclear capability to develop nuclear weapons. As a result, most of the public in the UK, France, Germany, and Austria believe the international community should prevent Iran from advancing its nuclear research,” Bonazzi concluded.

The results come from surveys conducted in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Austria.  The surveys fielded between January 25 – 29, among adults 18 years of age and older in the four countries.  Approximately 1,000 interviews were completed in France and Germany, 956 in the UK, and 400 in Austria.  The France, Germany and the UK surveys have about a +/- 3.1 margin of error on the full sample questions and about +/- 4.5 on split sample questions.  The Austrian survey has a +/- 4.9 margin of error.  Key findings include:

• To ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, pluralities in all four countries prefer to continue diplomatic pressure on Iran, rather than economic sanctions, support for opposition groups within Iran, or military action against Iran.  However, if Iran is “on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon,” a strong majority in France (74 percent), a majority in Austria (51 percent), and pluralities in Britain (49 percent) and Germany (46 percent) favor “limited military action by NATO to destroy Iran's ability to make nuclear weapons.” 

• Majorities in all four countries believe Iran is resuming its nuclear research in order to develop nuclear weapons either in combination with nuclear energy purposes, or solely for nuclear weapons purposes.  Very strong majorities believe this in Austria (85 percent), Germany (82 percent), and France (78 percent).  A 52 percent majority of British respondents also believes this.

• Strong majorities in France (83 percent), Austria (73 percent), and Germany (67 percent) and a 51 percent majority in the UK are very or somewhat worried that Iran will develop nuclear weapons.  The issue is highly salient to European publics, with majorities in all four countries reporting that they have recently seen, read, or heard “a lot” or “some” about the issue.

• This fear leads fully three quarters of the public in Austria (76 percent), France (74 percent), and Germany (74 percent), and nearly half in the UK (46 percent) to say the international community should prevent Iran from conducting further nuclear fuel research.

The results come a day before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors convenes an emergency meeting in Vienna to discuss the Iranian situation. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council reached an agreement on Monday night in London to refer Iran to the UN Security Council following the regular meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in early March.

The European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) is a Brussels-based policy institute dedicated to defending democratic values, promoting freedom and countering the ideologies that drive terrorism.  It is a partner of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (, a non partisan policy institute based in Washington, D.C.