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Bomb Iran? Nearly half of Americans say 'yes' to halt nuclear program.

A new You-Gov poll finds 44 percent of Americans favor, and 35 percent oppose, a strike against Iran. Fewer Europeans favor force, but more are convinced Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

By Staff writer / February 9, 2012

This March 14, 2007, file photo provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency shows crews loading a bomb, the massive ordnance penetrator, in a test at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. The conventional 30,000-pound penetrating bomb is designed to defeat deeply buried targets such as bunker and tunnel facilities.

Courtesy of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/AP/File

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Washington

Nearly half of Americans now say they would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities to stop its uranium enrichment in order to halt its advances toward an ability to build a nuclear weapon – even as President Obama touts diplomacy as still the best means of addressing the Iranian nuclear issue.

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That plurality of support among Americans for airstrikes against Iran is one of the findings of a new poll by the London-based YouGov organization and its research arm, YouGov-Cambridge, which also finds a generally wide gulf between Americans and Europeans on the use of force against Iran.

But the poll also finds America’s deep political divide to be alive and well on the subject of Iran, with far more Republicans favoring an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities than Democrats.

“The American public is generally at one end in these sorts of [transatlantic] surveys about the use of force in the Middle East, with the Germans always the most shy about military intervention,” says Joel Faulkner Rogers, director of YouGov-Cambridge (UK). “But this [poll] also finds these really big gaps between Democrats and Republicans when the question is Iran.”

Indeed, two-thirds of Republicans support bombing Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities as opposed to 38 percent of Democrats, the poll finds. A similar 30-point gap exists on the question of whether Iran is trying to build a bomb: while 56 percent of Democrats say they believe that is Iran’s goal, a whopping 86 percent of Republicans hold that view.

YouGov released the survey just as the international debate intensifies over how to address Iran’s nuclear program, and in particular over how close Israel is to launching airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Last week some Israeli officials suggested an attack could be imminent, causing heightened tensions and a spike in attention to the issue.

On Sunday President Obama said in an interview with NBC that he still favors addressing Iran’s nuclear progress through diplomatic means (on Monday he signed new sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to change course and cooperate with the international community) and that he does not believe Israel has decided to bomb Iran’s facilities.

Some US officials said privately that the president’s comment on Israel’s intentions reflected his recent conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanayahu will be in Washington the first week of March to deliver a speech to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and is expected to again discuss the issue with Obama.

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