Department of Defense Begins Identifying Remains Returned From North Korea

Glen Norman
August 2, 2018

A US military aircraft left North Korea last week carrying 55 boxes handed over by Kim Jong Un's regime that are believed to contain the remains of USA service members.

Vice President Pence on Wednesday welcomed the return of the presumed remains of US troops killed in the Korean War and called it a sign of "tangible progress" in ongoing negotiations with North Korea.

A United States defense official said Tuesday that it probably will take months if not years to fully determine individual identities from the remains.

This week, the US received the remains of dozens of presumed USA war dead that were handed over by North Korea.

All Americans welcome the return of remains from the Korean War.

"There's no reason at this point to doubt that they do relate to Korean War losses", said John Byrd, a forensic anthropologist working for the Hawaii-based agency in charge of identifying the remains.

The reports about new missile construction come after recent revelations about a suspected uranium enrichment facility, called Kangson, that North Korea is operating in secret.

"We are in serious danger of stalling and to me that's the main challenge now", he said.

Pence attended a repatriation ceremony at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, where 55 caskets of presumed troop remains were unloaded from military planes and placed on stanchions at the air base. The official, who discussed previously undisclosed aspects of the remains issue on condition of anonymity, also said North Korea provided a single military dog tag along with the remains.

She also said the visit aimed to strengthen Indonesia's "long and historical relationship" with North Korea, forged decades ago by the two nations' respective founding fathers, Sukarno and Kim Il-sung.

If the reported North Korean nuclear activity seems inconsistent with what went down at the meeting in Indonesia, it's because Trump oversold the progress he made there.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a tour of Asian capitals this week, in part to urge countries to keep the sanctions pressure on North Korea in order to push the denuclearization process along.

"The Korean War fallen have never been forgotten by the United States of America nor the 16 other sending states that comprise the UNC".

Kim Jong Un committed to try to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" during the summit in Singapore, but he agreed to no specific measures or timelines.

The US has repeatedly rejected worldwide calls for sanctions relief on North Korea.

The Sanumdong factory built the first North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States. Indeed, the commitments regarding its nuclear weapons program were so vague as to be nearly meaningless, in my view.

The purported remains of Americans who died in the Korean War are on their way to Hawaii, where they'll be analyzed in hopes of providing a new sense of closure for families who lost loved ones in the war that ended with a cease-fire in 1953.

"I don't think North Korea is refusing to give dog tags when it has more but it probably doesn't have dog tags lying around", he said.

It wasn't the first time Trump has suggested that China was relaxing pressure on North Korea amid the simmering trade dispute.

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