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Poll: Americans nervous about Iran

Bush's approval rating drops to 39 percent

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President Bush's approval rating dropped to 39 percent in a new poll.

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(CNN) -- Americans are nervous about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, but also worry about the ability of the United States and the United Nations to deal with the situation, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday suggests.

Iran says it is developing a nuclear program to provide energy. The United States, France, England and Germany suspect Iran aims to develop nuclear weapons.

Last month, Iran removed U.N. monitoring seals from its equipment and said it was beginning nuclear research.

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, voted February 4 to report Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions. Iran ended its cooperation with the agency and said it would commence uranium enrichment and halt snap inspections, while still leaving open the possibility of further negotiations.

The 1,000 adults who responded to the telephone poll taken between Thursday and Sunday said they fear the Bush administration will be too quick to use military force if diplomacy fails, and at the same time are concerned the administration won't do enough to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. (Poll results)

Most respondents saw a high chance that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, it would use them against the United States or its ally Israel.

Fifty-nine percent thought Iran would use nuclear weapons against the United States, and 80 percent thought the Iranians would hand them over to terrorists to use against the United States.

More thought Iran would use the weapons against Israel -- 77 percent -- and about as many -- 81 percent -- thought Iran would give them to terrorists who wanted to use them against Israel.

Sixty-eight percent of the respondents called for economic and diplomatic action to keep Iran away from atomic weapons, while only 9 percent called for military action.

Even if diplomacy were to fail, only 36 percent of those who responded to the survey thought military action would be called for, while 45 percent said it would not.

Respondents also put little faith in the United Nations, with 51 percent saying they were not confident that the international community could handle Iran.

Moreover, 69 percent said they were concerned that the Bush administration would be too quick to use military force, yet 67 percent were also concerned the United States wouldn't do enough to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The respondents' concerns were echoed in President Bush's overall approval rating, which dropped to 39 percent, down from 42 percent in a poll taken February 6-9.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they disapproved of the way the president is handling his job.

The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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