Poll: Iran bigger threat to US than North Korea

Iran has supplanted North Korea as the biggest foreign threat in the eyes of the U.S. public, according to a new poll.

A CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday found that 48 percent of respondents viewed Iran as a “very serious threat,” while 43 percent believed that North Korea hit the same threat level. Thirty-three percent thought each country was a moderately serious threat.

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The results flip North Korea and Iran from the last time CNN/ORC asked a question, in June 2009, about foreign threats. In the 2009 poll, 52 percent viewed North Korea as a very serious threat, 9 points higher than those mentioning Iran.

Recent events have likely contributed to that perception, as North Korea just failed to launch a long-range missile while talk of conflict with Iran or an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities has ratcheted up in recent months.

In June 2009, North Korea had conducted its second nuclear test a month earlier.

The United States’s former Cold War foe, Russia, meanwhile, was considered a “very serious” threat by 11 percent of respondents in both 2012 and 2009. That’s a far cry from 1983, when 90 percent of respondents to the CNN poll saw the Soviet Union as either a very serious or moderately serious threat.

Syria was included in the poll for the first time this month, and 17 percent viewed it as a very serious threat, while 40 found it a moderate one.

Despite North Korea’s provocative missile launch — which occurred despite international opposition and cost North Korea 240,000 tons of food aid from the Obama administration — more than half of respondents still believed issues with North Korea can be resolved diplomatically. Nearly 60 percent opposed military action against North Korea if diplomacy was not successful.