In Australia the Labor Party Opposition is against the deal Prime Minister John Howard has done with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to allow sales of Australian uranium to India.

Yellow cake exports to a country that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, Labor Leader Kevin Rudd argues, help foster the spread of nuclear weapons.

Even if controls are agreed on which limit the use of the Australian uranium to power stations, local supplies will then be available to fuel the Indian bomb-making program.

In India an unusual alliance of Hindu nationalist parties and a group of communist parties known as The Left Front is equally against the policy changes by Manmohan Singh which were a pre-requisite to the India-Australian agreement.

The comp

laint of the Indian opposition is not that India’s nuclear weapons program will be assisted but rather that the terms of Mr Singh’s deal with US President George Bush on the issue involve a surrender of Indian sovereignty on nuclear matters to the United States.

In recent days the workings of the Indian Parliament have been disrupted by debate over the issue. Complicating matters for Mr Singh is his need to have the support of the communist parties in the parliament to govern.

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has declared that going ahead with this agreement would not serve India’s interests:

Given the widespread opposition to the agreement and the fact that a majority in parliament do not support the nuclear cooperation deal, the government should not proceed further with the agreement.

All in all a classic piece of coalition brinkmanship with an article in the Times of India this morning suggesting that the Left’s campaign against the Indo-US nuclear deal is inspired by Beijing.

“China is reportedly unsettled by India’s growing strategic ties with the US and next month’s planned joint naval exercise with the US, Australia, Japan and Singapore in the Bay of Bengal,” the report said.