No reason to believe remains returned by North Korea are not American

Larry Hoffman
August 1, 2018

Remains handed over by North Korea last week are human and likely American, according to an official with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The regime has continued to assemble intercontinental ballistic missiles at a plant near Pyongyang, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing people familiar with U.S. intelligence. Vehicles seen entering and leaving the facility on the outskirts of Pyongyang are similar to those used when the Hwasong-15, capable of reaching the United States, was last developed.

The return of US remains was one of four points listed in a joint declaration after the June summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un. The North Koreans aren't puttering around with new missiles for their health.

There was only one identification "dog tag" the North Koreans included in the transfer, he said, but it's unclear whether his remains were among the 55 caskets. Most died on the battlefield and were buried in shallow graves or in cemeteries that were meant to be temporary, but some also perished in POW camps run by North Korea or China, experts say.

A joint honor guard received six repatriated service members April 12, 2007, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that were returned from North Korea. In that address, the North Korean leader was unequivocal about what was next, they say.

Major Gen. Kim Do-gyun (2nd from R), the chief of South Korea's delegation to the inter-Korean military talks, speaks to the press in Seoul on July 31, 2018, before departing for the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was forced to admit that North Korea was continuing to produce nuclear fissile material, though he insisted that "progress is happening".

United Nations Command Chaplain U.S. Army Col. Sam Lee performs a blessing of sacrifice and remembrance on the 55 boxes of remains thought to be of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, returned by North Korea to the U.S., at the Osan Air Base in South Korea, July 27. "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea". Indonesia guarantees the security of all countries' representatives and contingents, including those of North Korea.

The Washington Post spoke to multiple intelligence officials who have monitored "ongoing activity" recently from North Korea's nuclear and missile testing facilities.

However, officials did note to the Washington Post that another launch facility - the Sohae Satellite Launching Station on the West Coast - was being partially dismantled.

"There are chance encounters, there are sometimes planned encounters - but we're not there yet for any announcement", the official said. Any work by North Korea on new missiles suggests an expansion of its nuclear capabilities, I would have thought.

It declares in its preamble that Kim "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" - nary a word about that denuclearization being verifiable or pertaining exclusively to North Korea, as Pompeo had put it - and it goes on to state, once more, that North Korea "commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

Between 1990 and 2005 229 sets of remains from the North were repatriated, but those operations were suspended when ties worsened over Pyongyang's banned nuclear weapons programme.

The recovery efforts stalled for more than a decade because of a standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions and a previous U.S. claim that security arrangements for its personnel working in the North were insufficient.

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