Japan urges N. Korea to scrap nuclear weapons

Japan urged North Korea on Wednesday to comply with its international obligations and scrap its nuclear weapons, as a 35-nation meeting of the International Atomic Energy Organization focused on IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's upcoming trip to Pyongyang. Since its start Monday, the meeting has been overshadowed by Iran's nuclear defiance in refusing to freeze uranium enrichment as demanded by the UN Security Council. The five permanent Council members are discussing possible new sanctions against Iran, including a travel ban, an expanded list of people and companies subject to an asset freeze, an arms embargo and trade restrictions - but differences remain, council diplomats said. The gathering is expected to approve a recommendation by the agency to partially or fully suspend 23 technical aid programs benefiting Iran, in line with existing Security Council sanctions and will look at a report by ElBaradei confirming that Iran continues its enrichment activities. Enrichment is a key issue because it can be used to make the fissile core of nuclear warheads, although Teheran insists it wants to enrich only to low levels used to generate power.