JAPAN DENIES NUCLEAR CAPABILITY Japan yesterday denied as groundless the report by the British newspaper, the Sunday Times, which stated Japan has acquired all the parts needed to make a nuclear weapon. Vice Foreign Minister Kunihiko Saito said his ministry is pursuing the matter with the British Ministry of Defense, which the media report said had warned Prime Minister John Major that North Korea's nuclear program may force Japan to abandon its nonnuclear stance. Mr. Saito said Japan maintains its three-point policy of not producing, possessing, or bringing in nuclear weapons. (US deadline for North Korea to accept nuclear-program inspections nears, Page 1.) Somali/US fighting

Three Somalis were killed and at least 13 wounded when US troops battled gunmen who attacked a convoy of US diplomatic cars in Mogadishu yesterday. It was the first serious clash between US troops and Somali gunmen since warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed's militia declared a unilateral cease-fire with the UN forces in October. Middle East talks

The PLO and Israel failed yesterday to break the deadlock over their peace accord, but negotiators said they hoped to draft a compromise agreement within the seven days remaining until a scheduled Cairo meeting. It was the second time in two weeks that PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had tried to hammer out issues delaying Israel's troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho. A Sept. 13 accord gave Palestinians in the occupied territories limited self-rule, but it ran into trouble in December. Serbs mobilize

Frustrated by dogged resistance on the front lines and stalemated peace talks, Bosnian Serb commanders yesterday said they are pressing all able-bodied men and women into service in hopes of forcing the capitulation of Muslim-led government forces. No timetable was announced. The 80,000-plus Bosnian Serb forces enjoy vast superiority in weaponry. But the Bosnian government's 100,000-strong Army has become a tougher enemy. New Chernobyl research

The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the former Soviet Union led to a complete core meltdown and far worse contamination than previously reported, according to MIT nuclear engineer Alexander Sich. The amount of radioactivity released was up to four or five times greater than previously published estimates, Mr. Sich wrote in his doctoral dissertation. Soviet authorities claimed that the initial explosion led only to a partial meltdown. They said helicopters were able to douse the blazing core by smothering it with sand, lead, boron, and clay.

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