Nuclear Isotopes Caught Heading to Iran – Not Quite What it Seemed

There is radiation. And then there is radiation.

Reports from Moscow appeared to provide more evidence of Iran's ambition to build a nuclear bomb. Russian customs agents said Friday morning they found 18 pieces of radioactive metal in the luggage of a passenger bound for Tehran. A radiation detector at the airport identified the luggage, which had levels of radiation 20 times the limit.

But on closer examination the isotope was identified as Na22, which is used in medicine. It is commonly used to trace sodium in the body. It cannot be used in the production nuclear weapons. Russia has an agreement with Iran to supply medical isotopes.

It's not surprising that the world is on edge about anything nuclear heading to Tehran. On Thursday diplomatic sources reported that there is hard evidence that Iran is once-again ramping up its nuclear program by transferring machinery, equipment and nuclear material to an underground bunker deep inside a mountain.

This also coincides with a period of escalating tensions between Iran and the West after a U.N. report last month said Tehran appears to be working on designing a nuclear weapon. Iran insists it just wants to build nuclear power plants, but enriched uranium is also the key ingredient for atomic bombs, which is what the West suspects is the country's ultimate intention.

You may remember that in 2009 Iran's nuclear program was the target of a cyber attack from a powerful computer worm called Stuxnet that had its centrifuges spinning out of control.

The U.S. and Israel have not ruled out military action of if diplomacy fails to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions.