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Some 23 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Some 85 percent of respondents said they feared the Islamic Republic would obtain an atomic bomb, 57 percent believed the new U.S. initiative to engage in dialogue with Tehran would fail and 41 percent believed Israel should strike Iran's nuclear installations without waiting to see whether or how the talks develop.

"The findings are worrying because they reflect an exaggerated and unnecessary fear," Prof. David Menashri, the head of the Center, said. "Iran's leadership is religiously extremist but calculated and it understands an unconventional attack on Israel is an act of madness that will destroy Iran. Sadly, the survey shows the Iranian threat works well even without a bomb and thousands of Israelis [already] live in fear and contemplate leaving the country."

Women are more fearful than men that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons: 83 percent of female respondents said they fear such a scenario in contrast to 78 percent of men; 39 percent of women said they would consider leaving the country in such an event as opposed to 22 percent of men.

Age was also a factor for respondents: 89 percent of those aged 42 and above said they were fearful of a nuclear Iran, in comparison to 61 percent of those aged 18 to 41.

Some 80 percent of left-wing voters and 67 percent of right-wing voters expressed deep concern over a nuclear Iran. Respondents describing themselves as centrists were the most fretful, with 88 percent saying they feared Iran would obtain the bomb.

The poll was conducted among 509 people representative of Israel's adult population.