Whales don't seem to have much to do with the North American Free Trade Agreement. But they may be the latest political problem for the troubled pact. Some environmental groups backed NAFTA after being assured that its environmental protections would be vigorously enforced. Now, they are upset by the Administration's refusal to slap sanctions on Norway for allowing a limited hunt of minke whales in defiance of an international agreement. After Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland visited Washington, President Clinton said he wouldn't punish its European ally until the U.S. has "exhausted all good-faith efforts" to resolve the dispute through negotiations. But environmentalists worry that an Administration that won't use sanctions to back a global ban on whaling may be equally reluctant to deploy the enforcement powers under the proposed trade pact. "This calls into question the willingness to use sanctions to safeguard NAFTA," says Michael Sutton, acting vice-president of the World Wildlife Fund.

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