Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Agency Begins Process of Identifying Korean War Remains

Agency Begins Process of Identifying Korean War Remains

The remains were handed over last week in the coastal city of Wonsan, North Korea, before they were flown back to an air base in South Korea.

Decades after the end of the Korean War in 1953, the remains of dozens of presumed USA war dead began their journey home following a repatriation ceremony in South Korea on Wednesday. A USA military plane made a rare trip into North Korea to retrieve the 55 cases.

The remains were then moved in gray vans to an airfield where US and South Korean soldiers loaded them one by one into transport planes.

The 55 boxes, draped in the blue and white flag of the United Nations, are each small enough to be carried in one person's arms.

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

Intelligence reports also state that North Korean officials intend to "deceive Washington about the number of nuclear warheads and missiles" and to also fool worldwide inspectors while hiding some of their facilities.

He said officials have been in touch with the family of the service member referenced in the identifying tag, known as a dog tag, and emphasised that it was too early to confirm if that identity matched accompanying remains.

The last time North Korea turned over American remains was in 2007.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said some remains could turn out to be those of missing from other nations.

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Joel Wit, a former State Department negotiator and founder of 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, said it was unrealistic to expect North Korea to stop its programs "until the ink is dry on an agreement". USA intelligence agencies in recent months increased their estimates of the size of North Korea's nuclear arsenal, taking into account enriched uranium from at least one secret enrichment site.

Melissa Hanham, a North Korea expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells the BBC that satellite images show there has been "regular traffic in and out of the building" at the Sanumdong facility-and the pattern didn't change throughout peace talks in Singapore and the DMZ. "Thank you to Kim Jong Un".

From there, the remains will be taken to a laboratory in Hawaii for possible identification, with the goal of matching them with any of the 7,697 US personnel who remain are unaccounted for after the Korean War.

Remember that really great summit Trump had with Kim Jong-un in Singapore last month? North Korea has nearly certainly not sent back anything close to 200 bodies.

Bruce Bennett, a senior Rand Corporation researcher, said North Korea's recent moves are a way pressuring Washington for sanctions concessions.

An image taken on July 7 showed a bright-red covered trailer in a loading area that appears to be identical to those vehicles the country has previously used to transport ICBMs. But many experts say those are neither irrevocable nor serious steps that could show the country is honest about denuclearization.

Activity seen at a factory in North Korea that produced the country's first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) indicates it is constructing new missiles, a US-based newspaper has reported quoting intelligence officials.

Based on this and other evidence, US officials reportedly believe that work is underway on at least one and possibly two liquid-fueled ICBMs at the factory. A total of 5,300 American servicemen are believed to have been lost in what is now North Korea.

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