Keeping An Eye On Iraq

A year after UN weapons inspectors left Iraq, the diplomatic battle over how to get them back on the job is finally reaching a climax. But a senior U.S. official tells CBS News the plan now being considered by the UN Security Council is "unlikely to be effective."

The plan would create a new inspection commission, but former weapons inspectors say its powers have been watered down, making it easier for Iraq to get out from under economic sanctions without first having to prove it has dismantled all its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

In the year the inspectors have been gone, the cameras that monitored Iraqi weapons programs have been shut off while Saddam Hussein has continued his efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin.

"Saddam Hussein has tried to import enough special electronic switches to outfit three nuclear weapons," said nuclear expert Gary Milhollin.

Iraq is importing six of these machines normally used to dissolve kidney stones but which, according to Milhollin, contain sophisticated electronic switches that could be used in nuclear weapons.

"Saddam ordered 120 switches for six machines, which the six machines will never need," Milhollin said. "And to me it's pretty clear that he intended to use them for nuclear weapons."

It seems to be the same old Saddam, but a weaker UN commission. Still, the Clinton administration believes it's better than no inspections at all. Besides, the U.S. can always use its veto power at the UN to prevent sanctions from being lifted.