02/27/2021, 09.39
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Iranians in favor of return to nuclear deal, Rouhani's popularity plummets

A poll shows that the majority want the JCPOA to be restored. But only if the United States takes the first step or at the same time. The Biden administration is tasked with rebuilding trust in the US after the Trump years. President’s approval rating plummets from 61% in 2015 to 7.6% today. Conservative Raisi favourite for June polls, Ahmadinejad gaining ground.

Tehran (AsiaNews) - The majority of Iranians are in favor of a full return to the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) overturned by Donald Trump with sanctions, but only in the event that the United States makes the conciliatory move "first or at the same time” as Tehran.

This is what emerges from a telephone survey carried out in collaboration by the Center for International and Security Studies of the University of Maryland and the IranPoll agency, based in Toronto, Canada. The scholars consulted over a thousand citizens of the Islamic Republic from various areas of the country, in the interval between January 26 and February 6.

Half say they are "firmly" or "in some capacity" in favor of the JCPOA, down from 75% five years ago, following the signing of the nuclear deal. 58% are convinced that the new administration in Washington will return to the nuclear pact, although 60% believe that the Americans will not respect deadlines. Nancy Gallagher, director of Cissm, stresses that "the Biden administration must rebuild the confidence in the Iranians that the United States will keep its commitments".

The survey, the 12th conducted by the two organizations since 2014 examining Iranian public opinion, also shows a hardening of public sentiment, a few months before the presidential elections in June. The approval rating of the outgoing president, the moderate Hassan Rouhani, has dropped from 61% in 2015 to the current 7.6%. And forecasts indicate that the next leader of the Islamic Republic will be a conservative, while the moderate or reformist camp appears set for defeat.

Since Trump's electoral defeat in November, the Rouhani and Zarif duo have promoted intense diplomatic work to restore the agreement and ease punitive measures.

In May 2018, outgoing US President Donald Trump ordered the United States pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),​​ signed by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015, despite the opposition of the international community. 

Trump followed the withdrawal by imposing the toughest sanctions in history against Iran. The decision has negatively impacted the Iranian economy as noted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Covid 19 emergency only worsened the situation for the population. In response, Tehran threatened to resume uranium enrichment for civilian purposes and has already surpassed uranium reserves.

Returning to the poll, if half are still in favor of the JCPOA, as many as 88% would be willing to restore the nuclear deal if the United States takes the first step. Only 31% want Tehran to move first, while 55% believe it is correct to do so simultaneously.

Among the steps that the Biden administration should take to regain the confidence of Iranians, four out of five call for the cancellation of Trump's decision to classify the Central Bank as a terrorist organization. This move would also favor the purchase of food and medicine from abroad. Seven out of 10 want a condemnation of the murder of the scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

As for the vote in the presidential elections in June, the head of the judiciary and conservative exponent Ebrahim Raisi leads with 28% of the votes, followed by former populist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with 12%, which appears to be growing in the polls. In third place, the former mayor of Tehran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf with 6.4% and, lastly, the current Foreign Minister Zarif with 5.3% of the preferences.

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