Washington (CNN) Seven in 10 Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons, according to a new national poll.
Friday's release of the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey comes just hours after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Islamic republic isn't seeking and doesn't believe in pursuing nuclear weapons. Khamenei was responding to a draft United Nations report that said that Iran may be working to develop a nuclear weapon.
The poll indicates that 71 percent of the public says Iran has nuclear weapons, with just over one in four disagreeing. More than six in ten think the U.S. should take economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down their nuclear program, with only a quarter calling for immediate military action.
"But if economic and diplomatic efforts fail, support for military action rises to 59 percent, with only 39 percent opposing military action under those circumstances," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The survey also indicates that support is dropping for how President Obama handled the attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, but the change seems unrelated to the controversy over reading the suspect his rights. In early January, 57 percent of the public approved of how Obama reacted to that incident, but that figure has dropped 12 points, with 47 percent now saying they disapprove of how Obama handled the situation.
"Critics have asserted that the FBI should not have read Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab his Miranda rights. But two-thirds think the FBI should have told AbdulMutallab that he had the right to remain silent, and 56 percent say that the FBI should do that with any terrorist suspect in custody," adds Holland.
But according to the poll, nearly six in ten continue to believe that the suspect should be tried in a military court, not a civilian court.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.