Iran is pursuing nuclear energy for purely peaceful reasons.
This is the result of the 2008 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll taken by Zogby International for the University of Maryland's Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development. The poll covers a number of topics; by all means, take a look at the whole thing.
46% of those polled believe Iran is conducting research for peaceful purposes while 39% think weaponry is the end goal. More strikingly, 67% feel Iran should be left to its own devices (so to speak); only 22% think pressure should be applied to stop them.
The countries do not think as one. Jordan and Morocco are more dubious about Iran's motives and what it might mean for the Arab world than are Saudi Arabia and Egypt - other participants are the UAE and Lebanon, which split more evenly. The pdf linked provides more details, of course, but not enough to really understand the cultural and perhaps geographical biases inherent in each polled country. It's hard to believe that a people's attitude toward Israel is not highly relevant, but impossible to know. (To be fair, the poll also includes questions about Israel and the responses are nowhere near as dire as a westerner might fear.)
What does it all mean? Well, Iran has started a stampede among the other nations of the region to pursue nuclear energy - most of them, however, have pacted with the United States or France's AREVA to achieve it. These efforts are to the good - there is a recognition, even among large oil-producing nations, that nuclear energy provides benefits going forward that oil cannot match.
As for Iran, the safest course is to harbor doubts at least until the IAEA weighs in - Iran had been ducking it, a really terrible sign. Unfortunately, although there have been meetings this week, Russia has been a party to them. This needn't be a net negative, but Russia is looking for advantage in the region - with the U.S. showing off a lot of heavy armament right next door - and is likely to give Iran a fairly wide berth:
A three-man delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), headed by chief inspector Olli Heinonen, arrived in Tehran Monday morning and was to hold talks with officials from the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization.
Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini Sunday rejected press reports that Iran would discuss intelligence alleging Iran pursued nuclear weapons studies with Heinonen, saying that talks would only be within the framework of the IAEA and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Heinonen was in Tehran last week, but Tehran insisted that the visit was just routine and rejected Western press reports that the talks were solely focused on the new allegations.
Can't say this does a lot for one's confidence level, but we'll see.
With U.S. political figures about as bellicose as can be about Iran - Hilary Clinton recently threatened to obliterate the country if it lobbed nuclear-armed missiles at Israel - it's interesting to note that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is welcomed warmly by his Arab and Asian counterparts, as seen here:
Sri Lanka said Tuesday that it supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy by Iran within the framework of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's two-day state visit to Sri Lanka, "the two sides confirmed the full and non-discriminatory implementation of Article IV of the NPT on peaceful nuclear co-operation."
See? Iran is pursuing nuclear energy for purely peaceful reasons.
Confidence level, unraised.