Majority Of Americans Say U.S. Should Stay In The Iran Nuclear Deal

A majority of Americans want the President to stay in the nuclear deal with Iran. That's unlikely to matter to him.

A new poll shows that most Americans want the United States to stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), the deal between Iran and six other nations that has largely brought Iran’s nuclear research program to a standstill:

Almost two-thirds of Americans — 63% — believe that the US should not withdraw from the agreement made with Iran to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons. Only 29% believe the US should withdraw, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Tuesday whether he will remove the US from the deal, which lifted some sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. Trump has repeatedly criticized the agreement, which was made under former President Barack Obama, as a bad deal and has threatened to pull out the US even though Iran has been certified by a UN organization as complying with the terms of the pact.

The strongest proponents of withdrawing from the treaty are Republicans (51% say the US should withdraw), conservatives (47%) and those who approve of the job Trump is doing as President (46%).

Support for remaining in the agreement comes even as a strong majority of 62% say they believe Iran has violated the terms of the agreement. Nineteen percent said Iran has not violated the terms, with the same share saying they have no opinion.

Those who approve of the way Trump is handling the presidency (80%) are apt to say Iran has violated the agreement’s terms, while Democrats (30%) are most likely to say Iran has not violated those terms.

Almost 4 in 10 — 37% — say they approve of the way Trump is handling the US relationship with Iran, while 46% disapprove. A sizable 17% have no opinion.

Positive takes on Trump for his handling of Iran are not as high as they are on other comparable issues, especially among his base. While 82% of Republicans approve of the way the President is handling foreign affairs, only 73% approve of his handling of the US relationship with Iran.

At the same time, the percentage of people saying Iran poses a serious threat to the United States has ticked up since last year. Seventy-five percent say Iran is either “a very serious threat” or “a moderately serious threat”, compared with 69% in October and 71% in August.

The share who consider Iran a “very serious threat” has increased 10 points since October — from 30% to 40%. That’s a high during the Trump presidency and about on par with the threat level seen in April 2015, around the time the framework for the nuclear deal was agreed on.

As noted, the President announced on Twitter yesterday that he would be announcing his intentions with regard to the JCPOA at 2:00 pm this afternoon in Washington. The expectation is that he will announce that the United States is withdrawing from the agreement, and there’s certainly plenty of reason to believe this is the case.

As a candidate, for example, Trump claimed repeatedly that he could have negotiated a better deal than the one that seven-way talks in Switzerland came up with in the summer of 2015, and he used that to repeatedly bash the Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton, and even some fellow Republicans throughout the campaign. In September 2015, while Congress was considering the agreement, Trump co-hosted a rally in Washington with fellow Republican candidate for President Ted Cruz that sought to rally support against the agreement. Ultimately that effort failed and the deal went into effect but that didn’t stop Trump from continuing to criticize the agreement throughout the primary and General Election campaigns and to continue to spread baseless claims about the agreement that had become popular in conservative media.

Once he became President, Trump continued to attack the agreement but ultimately decided to take a pass on his first opportunity withdraw from it a year ago when he decided to lift another set of sanctions as called for under the agreement.  It was clear at the time, though, that the President did this reluctantly and that the entire deal was in danger of falling apart depending on what the United States did next. The President wasn’t quite as circumspect in October when the next opportunity to attack came. At that point, he declined to certify to Congress that Iran was in compliance with the agreement This happened notwithstanding the fact that both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Iran was complying with its obligations under the agreement and that staying in the JCPOA was in the national interests of the United States. It also occurred notwithstanding the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is charged with monitoring Iran’s compliance with the agreement, has said each time it has been required to report on the status of the agreement that Iran is living up to its obligations under the agreement.

Most recently, French President Emmanual Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both came to the United States for the express purpose of trying to convince Trump to keep the United States in the deal. Additionally, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has said he agrees with some of Trump’s criticisms of the JCPOA, wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times arguing that the United States should stay in the agreement. Those arguments likely fell on deaf ears, though, a fact seemingly acknowledged by President Macron at the end of his visit last month when he said that Trump was likely to pull out of the deal for “domestic reasons.” In the meantime, Macron and Merkel, along with British Prime Minister Theresa May continue to work behind the scenes to try to find a way to save the JCPOA, but those efforts seem as though they will be in vain.

Given all of this, it’s unlikely that these poll results will have any impact on Trump’s decision and, indeed, they may reinforce his determination to walk away from the deal. As indicated above, while the poll shows that Americans as a whole oppose walking away from the deal, a majority of Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters are in favor of such action. Trump’s seemingly inevitable decision to walk away from the JCPOA would likely just reinforce that support, and as President Macron’s statement makes clear this seems to be all that Trump cares about. As I’ve said before, walking away from the JCPOA would be just as foolish as decertifying Iranian compliance was. It would most likely embolden the hardliners in Iran while simultaneously undermining the United States just as we are on the verge of high stake negotiations with North Korea regarding its nuclear weapons program. Despite, or perhaps because of that, it looks as though this is exactly what the President will do later today.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Public Opinion Polls, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kathy says:

    We know the only “poll” that matters is what’s on Fox News when the Orange Coward watches.

  2. Kathy says:

    The other thing I don’t get is Mangolini’s fixation on deals.

    Oh, I know “his” book and his reputation, but he’s not supposed to be a mere celebrity huckster heckling from the sidelines. He has a cabinet, advisers, and Congress. Not that I belittle diplomacy, but it is more than deals and treaties.


    1) The purpose is to contain Iran, how do you go about it? It won’t be easy. Iran has been a regional power for a while. Remember the hostages in Lebanon taken by Iranian proxies? That led to Ollie North and The Admiral selling weapons to the Ayatollah, in order to ease a long-running embarrassment on the Reagan administration (and to fund a civil war in Nicaragua).

    I know for a lot of people the 1980s are ancient history, but many of us lived through that period. We saw history in first draft through the headlines.

    2) If a “better deal” is so important to Trump, why did he allow the State Department to be gutted and mismanaged for over a year?

  3. de stijl says:

    What, exactly, is the upside to abrogating the deal? Do we gain tactical advantage? Strategic?

    I don’t understand the basic reasoning of the folks who advocate for killing the Iran deal.

    Is it just spite?

  4. de stijl says:

    I really don’t get why anyone would think this a good idea and why it makes sense to do this.

    God dammit, my country is pissing me really fucking off today.

    Gina Haspel for CIA director. Ollie North at the NRA. Trump as President. Pence as VP. McConnell. Ryan. I am very pissed off and I don’t even care how it happened right now* but what we can do about it, because it is childish and foolish and if it happened in Honduras or Cameroon we would be rightly concerned about the state of the geopolitical world, but this is happening now, here. Serious people are talking about a known torturer as CIA director. Gaah! I cannot cope.

  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Today the POTUS will make it easier for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
    The only people who will applaud this are the ones who got us into Iraq.
    And Dennison’s idiotic followers.
    And, oh yeah…the cost of oil/gas will go up.
    We will be looking at $3.00+ for gas. Enjoy. Wonder how that will affect Paul Ryans teacher who is getting $1.50 more a week in her paycheck thanks to the tax cut for billionaires?

  6. Yank says:

    @de stijl: It is spite. Trump (and the GOP) don’t really stand for anything outside of being anti-Obama.

  7. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: @de stijl: I think there are two elements to this. First, there’s Trump’s outlook on “deals.” I wrote about that a few weeks ago. I view that factor as in some ways separate from the more conventional freakout over the Iran Deal coming from neocons, Israel hawks, and other parties afflicted with Munich Syndrome. In their minds, it’s always 1938, and any dealings with a hostile foreign power automatically constitute appeasing Hitler. That was always the tack taken against the Iran Deal, the idea that we were simply being conned by Iran, who would have no incentive to hold up their end of the deal. You don’t know how many people I’ve encountered who have called Obama naive, comparing him to Neville Chamberlain. This is an argument that goes all the way back to the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Candidate Obama had the temerity to suggest merely holding talks with Iran. It was the subject of Chris Matthews’ famous smackdown of the radio host who invoked “appeasement” without having any knowledge of what the word originally referred to in this context.

  8. de stijl says:


    It is spite.

    On some level I’m not going to acknowledge that makes me very angry. I am calm and centered. This world and this life is special. I am in the best bar in town. Garbage is on stage right now playing Special. I have a full chocolate stout pint. The Jam is up next and they will play Going Underground. The Replacements will do Skyway and Unsatisfied later. Snow patrol will do Chocolate. Crystal Castles will be doing I’m Not In Love. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs will close with Maps.

    I’m totally fine and I can cope with this. If I breathe deep enough it will go away until later.

  9. Kylopod says:

    My comment is stuck in moderation.

  10. teve tory says:

    @Yank: Amanda Marcotte describes the modern GOP as a Vengeance Cult.

  11. de stijl says:


    It is spite.

    On some level I’m not going to acknowledge that makes me very angry.

    I am calm and centered.

    This world and this life is special.

    I am in the best bar in town. Garbage is on stage right now playing Special. I have a full chocolate stout pint in front of me and my best mates around me. The Jam is up next and they will play Going Underground. The Replacements will do Skyway and Unsatisfied later. Snow Patrol will do Chocolate. Crystal Castles will be doing I’m Not In Love. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs will close with Maps. Maybe Haim will do an interstitial bit with the bass line from Forever.

    I am frosty cool. What’s cooler than being cool?

    I’m totally fine and I can cope with this. If I breathe deep enough it will go away until later.

  12. Kathy says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    And, oh yeah…the cost of oil/gas will go up.
    We will be looking at $3.00+ for gas. Enjoy. Wonder how that will affect Paul Ryans teacher who is getting $1.50 more a week in her paycheck thanks to the tax cut for billionaires?

    If oil goes up, the Peso should go up as well. This will ease the US trade deficit a bit, as Mexicans suddenly can buy a bit more stuff from America, which ought to add a fraction of a penny to the teacher’s weekly paycheck.

    But don’t expect the lamestream media to report this yuge economic good news.

  13. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Hey! That got double posted.


    I am in the quiet center of a raucous universe. I am tasting the sweetest water. That cloud looks like a butt. Ducks are terribly underrated; ducks rock almost as hard as dogs. No, you’re wandering! Focus on your breath!

  14. de stijl says:

    Sorrow drips into you heart through a pinhole.

    Just like a a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in that sound.

    It slowly rises.

    Your love is going to drown.

  15. teve tory says:

    Chris Hayes

    Following @chrislhayes

    An unnerving amount of conservative commentary I’ve seen on the Iran deal is laser-focused on how ripping up the deal really sticks it to John Kerry and assorted Obama staffers. #priorities

    10:59 AM – 8 May 2018

  16. de stijl says:

    @teve tory:

    Hence my retreat into a happy place.

    Here’s how sappy I’ve gotten. I listening to The Dream Academy Life In A Northern Town and I’m liking it. God bless Youtube’s recommended for you thingy. I was doing New Order Bizarre Love Triangle and it popped up on the right hand side and I clicked for laughs and it was pretty freaking awesome – I don’t think I’ve heard that song in what 30 years or so. It’s so, so, so schmaltzy, but still really freaking awesome. I like the girl in the marching band coat.

  17. teve tory says:

    Michael Wolf

    Verified account

    It’s no more complicated than this: Trump is running a revenge presidency. He scuttled the Iran deal simply because it was an Obama era achievement.

    10:15 AM – 8 May 2018

  18. JKB says:

    But can we trust the polls with all the collusion between Obama admin officials, the US media and the Iranian government? They’ve obviously been colluding to alter American opinion on the deal.

  19. Franklin says:

    @JKB: So you’re saying that the Iranian government has been buying tens of thousands of Facebook ads. Do you have proof of this assertion, JKB?

    And you’re saying Obama’s surrogates have been meeting with Iranian officials to dig up dirt on Trump. Do you have proof of this assertion, JKB?

    Not sure to go where the US media one. The only “news” groups trying to influence American opinion are *for* scrapping the deal. Or are you telling me you haven’t been watching Derschowitz and Netaneyahu, et al, over the past weeks?

  20. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:


    They’ve obviously been colluding to alter American opinion on the deal.

    Dude…it’s getting harder and harder for you to defend your man-crush, isn’t it?
    I mean…that was pathetic.

  21. Kathy says:

    He’s gone adn done it:

    Trump Withdraws U.S. From ‘One-Sided’ Iran Nuclear Deal

    The only question remains whether he starts the war against Iran before or after the midterm elections.

    Well, that would be the rational question. But then if Trump the Fucking Moron were rational, he wouldn’t have abrogated the deal. I’m certain he has no strategy or plan to deal with Iran, nor any plan or strategy for the midterms either. This is rule by whim.

    he does seem to think this will help in dealing with North Korea. If he truly does, then “Moron” becomes a gross overestimate of his political intelligence.

  22. Yank says:

    @teve tory: It really is. They have no new ideas or solutions and everything they believed in was discredited by the Bush years. So they have been reduced to resentment and petty grievances.

    These clowns belong in the minority, not running the government.

  23. CSK says:


    But Kathy, Trump is a celebrity huckster. He’ll never be anything but a celebrity huckster, and in any case, this is how he thinks he should run the presidency. In his own mind, he’s the most successful businessman and dealmaker in the history of the world, so why shoudn’t the techniques that “worked” for him when he was running his con out of Trump Tower work for him in the Oval Office?

  24. de stijl says:


    I did not hear what you said. I’m in a happy place where things are normal and happen for a reason.

    The cloud that looked like a butt now looks like a bison / camel hybrid. I’m focusing on that cloud. All is well.

  25. de stijl says:

    Ducks really are underrated. They’re pretty awesome. Way better than geese which are basically bastard dick pushy assholes with wings. Ducks=10. Geese=0.

    We have a coherent strategy for engaging with Iran. We have a containment plan and our executive branch knows who is Shi’a and who is Shiite and who is Kurdish and which countries abut other countries and we have a plan to cope with all contingencies. And the UN dudes can do site inspections whenever it strikes their fancy. All is well. All will be well.

    Baby duckies are really cute.

  26. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Good for you.

    Two questions: 1) what are you smoking and 2) can you send me some?

  27. de stijl says:


    Smoking nothing. Thinking of calling my ‘shroom guy, but for a later day. You don’t want to shroom when you’re down. Bad juju.

    Actually, I’m not down. Today is fine. We live in a decent country. Decent people live here in our great country. Things happen for a reason. We are not in a desperate downward spiral because of one fluky Presidential win. Our country is in tip-top shape. All is well. And all will be well.

  28. teve tory says:

    Trump just simultaneously empowered Iran to restart its nuke program, and drove a wedge between the US and our European allies.

    Putin is getting a lotta bang for his buck.