North Korea tops Iran as most disliked nation in US

Posted at 02/20/2014 7:34 AM

WASHINGTON - North Korea has achieved an unenviable feat -- it has surpassed Iran as the most disliked nation for Americans.

Only 11 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of North Korea, the first time since 2004 that the communist nation has been alone at rock bottom, an annual Gallup poll released Wednesday found.

Iran was not much higher at 12 percent, although the figure was up three points -- within the survey's margin of error -- from a year earlier. Russia saw the biggest fall.

The survey came after a year in which North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-Un defiantly tested a third nuclear weapon, threatened to attack the United States and executed his uncle and onetime mentor.

The poll of 1,023 Americans was taken February 6-9, days before a landmark UN inquiry accused the totalitarian state of crimes against humanity.

Iran has had tense relations with the United States since the 1979 Islamic revolution overthrew the Western-oriented shah, but the two countries have taken small steps to improve ties since President Hassan Rouhani swept to power in June elections on a reformist platform.

Iran in November reached a breakthrough but tentative agreement with the United States and five other powers to address concerns over its nuclear program.

Canada was once again the most popular foreign country for Americans, with 93 percent seeing the northern neighbor favorably.

The biggest drop was for Russia, whose favorability rating fell 10 points to 34 percent. Russian President Vladimir Putin has come under growing US criticism on issues ranging from gay rights to Ukraine's political crisis.

In other changes, India's favorability rating went up four points to 72 percent despite a showdown with the United States over a diplomat's arrest in New York.

Mexico posted the steepest rise, jumping 11 points to 58 percent.