Concern about North Korea's nuclear aspirations has reached a high of 75 percent, and nine-in-10 Americans reject the idea that the communist nation should become a nuclear power, according to a new survey.

The poll from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that Americans are worried about North Korea's saber rattling and also favor U.S. and global efforts to shut the program down.

The survey revealed a sharp spike in concern by Americans over North Korea in the past two years.

"Three-quarters of Americans (75%) now say that North Korea's nuclear program is a critical threat facing the United States, placing it among the top threats facing the country. Concern over North Korea's nuclear program has spiked 15 percentage points since 2016 (60%) and 20 percent from 2015 (55%). This is also the largest increase in any of the potential threats included in the 2017 survey," said the council.

It added: "Nine in ten Americans reject the idea that North Korea should be allowed to produce nuclear weapons."

The council also said that American support for defending South Korea is on the rise, now at 62 percent.

Sanctions, like those just imposed, are the favorite choice of Americans in a direct hit on North Korea. According to the council's poll analysis:

While sanctions have yet to slow North Korea's progress, increasing sanctions is the option that receives the most support from the American public (76%). On this, there is strong partisan agreement. While 84 percent of Republicans support this approach, 76 percent of Democrats agree. There is also strong support (68%) for placing sanctions on Chinese banks and companies that do business with North Korea.

Military action carries with it the very real risk of retaliation and escalation, and as in past surveys, lacks public support. Overall, 28 percent of Americans favor sending US troops to destroy North Korea's nuclear facilities and 40 percent favor conducting airstrikes against North Korea's nuclear production facilities.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at