Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

United Nations Command Transfers Korean War Remains Home to the U.S.

The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Leonard Rios | 03 August, 2018, 23:30

Military personnel bring in the presumed remains of USA soldiers in 55 caskets draped with American flags into Hanger 19 Joint base Pearl Harbor Hickam on August 1, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

USA defence secretary Jim Mattis said the return of the remains was a positive step, but there were no guarantees they were of U.S. military personnel.

"We don't know who's in those boxes", he said.

Experts say the North likely wants a declaration of the end of the Korean War as part of USA security assurances.

The 55 cases of remains will be thoroughly examined by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) at their laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii in an attempt to identify all the individuals recently turned over to the United States and Sound Korea.

Sixteen other countries sent troops to fight in the 1950-53 Korean War under the United Nations umbrella, and several of them also are believed to have been lost in the North.

The signing of a peace treaty could allow the North to demand the pullout of the 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea.

Kim Do-gyun, the South's chief negotiator who is in charge of North Korea policy at the defence ministry, told reporters that he would make efforts to craft "substantive" measures to ease tensions and build trust.

As a reward for returning the U.S. war dead, North Korea may demand that the United States agree on a declaration to end the Korean War as a USA security guarantee.

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There are no further details about the military dog-tag handed over when a United States military aircraft flew to Kalma Airport, near the North Korean city of Wonsan, on Friday.

The repatriation brings renewed hope to families who have waited decades for closure, although the full identification process could take years.

Initial forensic analysis suggested that the remains were likely to be those of American service members, the US military said. Mattis praised that North Korean returned the remains but said it is not a guarantee that the bones are American.

But at their landmark meeting in Singapore, Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed to work towards the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

The lack of progress has been a source of concern for many observers, especially as global sanctions are beginning to ease and news reports indicate that North Korea is continuing its nuclear and ballistic programs.

A report from late June conducted by the group 38 North found evidence based on satellite images that North Korea had been making a number of improvements to the infrastructure at multiple nuclear testing sites. About 5,300 were lost in what is now North Korea.

"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. Pence took to Twitter and said he was honoured to be there.

Officials say US spy agencies, citing evidence including recent satellite photos, have spotted signs that the North is building new intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to the Washington Post. But many experts say those are neither irrevocable nor serious steps that could show the country is honest about denuclearization.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it expects Pyongyang to keep its commitment made at a June leaders' summit to give up its nuclear arms and would press southeast Asian nations during meetings this week to maintain sanctions against North Korea.

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