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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda dismissed a report Wednesday that Japan is ready to agree to a U.S. proposal to suspend a project aimed at providing North Korea with light-water nuclear reactors.

The project is being overseen by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization.

“Such a fact does not exist,” Fukuda told his regularly scheduled news conference, flatly denying claims made in a report in the Wednesday edition of the Sankei Shimbun. “Japan has not changed its stance that the KEDO framework is a realistic way to discourage North Korea from developing nuclear arms.”

According to the Sankei Shimbun report, Japan now believes it is necessary to impose additional sanctions on North Korea because Pyongyang has shown no signs of abiding by its pledge to abandon its nuclear arms program.

The daily quoted an unidentified senior official of the Foreign Ministry as saying the U.S. has told Tokyo that it will ask Japan and South Korea to study the feasibility of a suspension during a KEDO executive board meeting Dec. 11 in New York.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters at his official residence Japan should discuss the issue with the U.S. and South Korea.

“The U.S. is taking a hardline stance, but it has not said it will abrogate” the 1994 U.S.-North Korea accord under which the KEDO project was launched, he said.

KEDO decided at a board meeting Nov. 14 to freeze fuel oil shipments to North Korea beginning in December.

The construction of the reactor and the supply of fuel oil have been undertaken under the 1994 Agreed Framework, designed to stop Pyongyang from developing nuclear arms.

North Korea admitted to the U.S. last month that it has a program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

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