By CNN's Political Unit
Americans see Iran as a bigger threat to the United States than North Korea, according to a new poll.
The CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday showed 81% view Iran as a very serious or moderate threat to the U.S. Three quarters of Americans said North Korea represents a similar threat.
The secretary of defense has said that Iran is viewed as a more significant threat because if it obtained nuclear weapons the country would destabilize the entire region.
“Iran is a country that is – does not behave according to international rules, is engaged in spreading terrorism, in destabilizing countries in that part of the world, and a country that operates on that basis becomes extremely dangerous if it obtains a nuclear weapon,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said last March at a press conference.
The new poll found a small majority were hopeful the situation with the Asian country could be resolved with economic and diplomatic efforts. However, if those efforts fail, nearly six in ten would oppose U.S. military action against North Korea.
The isolationist North Korea attempted to launch a long-range rocket on Friday, but it broke apart before escaping the earth's atmosphere and fell into the sea.
Just over half of respondents thought Syria was a serious or moderate threat to this country. But most Americans did not view Russia the same way, with a majority saying the country is just a slight threat to the U.S. or no threat at all.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International between April 13 and April 15, with 1,015 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error was plus or minus three percentage points.