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Iran Nuclear Program Should Be Abandoned, State TV Viewers Say

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A television poll conducted by Iranian state television backfired on Wednesday when 63 percent of respondents said they wanted to abandon Iran's nuclear program, according to a report by The Telegraph. The results led the channel to hastily shut down voting and accuse the BBC of manipulating results.

The poll, which was conducted online by state broadcaster IRIB, asked viewers how Iran should respond to a new oil embargo imposed by the European Union. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has criticized the new sanctions, calling them "the strongest ones that have ever been applied against a country" and vowing not to cave to Western pressure.

"Our enemies assume that they are able to corner Iran in a weak position with these sanctions," he told IRIB earlier this week.

But contrary to Ahmadinejad's defiant stance, Iranians overwhelmingly backed the poll's option for "giving up uranium enrichment in return of the gradual removal of sanctions." Only 20 percent of respondents said they supported closing the Strait of Hormuz, the passage for oil shipments from the Persian Gulf, in retaliation.

IRIB blamed the results on Western interference, accusing the BBC of having hacked into their website to alter the poll. The Daily Telegraph reported that "the Iranian broadcaster insisted the true figure supporting uranium enrichment suspension was only 24% while the rest backed retaliatory measures."

The BBC issued a statement on Thursday calling the accusations "both ludicrous and completely false."

The channel also claimed that the poll did not represent the views of Iranians because only 2000 people had participated.

However, the aftermath of the poll seemed to suggest otherwise. According to the Telegraph, the channel pulled down the poll on Wednesday, but suffered more embarrassment when a follow-up question on closing the Strait found 89 percent of voters against the move. The polls then disappeared in favor of an article on Persepolis, a popular Tehran soccer club.

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