Half of all American citizens believe that the US will engage in a war with Iran "within the next few years," according to a new poll.
Less than 40% approve of President Trump's handling of the crisis. The public opinion poll was carried out by Reuters/Ipsos and published Tuesday, 21st May, as President Trump’s administration intensifies its pressure campaign against the Iranian regime.
The poll results showed that 64% of Americans — including a large majority of Republicans — support the 2015 deal designed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.
But 51% of respondents indicated they thought that the United States and Iran would go to war within the next few years, up eight percentage points from a poll last June.
The poll found that 49% of all Americans disapprove of how Trump is handling relations with Iran, with 31% strongly disapproving. Overall, 39% approve of Trump's policy.
54% of Americans view Iran as a "serious" or "imminent" threat. If Iran attacked US military forces first, 79% of poll respondents said that the US military should retaliate: 40% preferred airstrikes on Iranian military targets, while 39% favoured a full invasion.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted May 17th to 20th on a sample of roughly 1,007 adults in the United States. The sample includes 350 Democratic registered voters, 289 Republican registered voters, and 181 independent registered voters.
In April, the US labelled Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organisation. In response, Iran officials threatened to target US interests in the Middle East. A month later the US restored all sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
Trump's national security adviser John Bolton in May made a show of an already scheduled US aircraft carrier group's deployment to the Arabian Gulf and announced a B-52 bomber force would be sent to the region. Days later, the Pentagon added a Patriot missile defence battery and an amphibious assault ship to the deployment.
The US accused Iran of attacking oil tankers near the United Arab Emirates’ territorial waters. Yemen's Iranian-aligned Houthi militias have carried out drone attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations amid US intelligence warnings that Iran or Iran-backed groups could threaten US interests.
President Trump threatened Iran on Sunday, May 19th, raising concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict, Reuters reported.
"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again," Trump said in a tweet.
Tehran has described US moves as "psychological warfare" and a "political game."