Pence attends ceremony honoring return of presumed Korean War dead

Casey GreeneAug 04, 2018

They bear not only the remains thought to be of missing servicemen from the 1950-53 Korean War, but also a message of good faith made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June.

Resting inside coffins wrapped in US flags, the remains arrived from South korea at the US Naval Base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, where a ceremony presided over by the country's Vice President, Mike Pence, was held.

Satellite images appear to indicate North Korea is possibly building two ICBMs at the same facility where the country produced its first long-range missiles, including the Hwasong-15 which make have the capability of hitting the U.S. East Coast, officials told The Washington Post Monday on condition of anonymity.

"I don't have any announcement today but it's natural to get a lot of business done. but we are not there for any announcements", the official said.

There was some initial uncertainty over the fate of the remains, as North Korean officials canceled a meeting last month to discuss how to go about returning them.

"There is no reason to doubt that they do relate to Korean War losses", John Byrd, director of analysis for the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), told reporters at Osan air base in South Korea, just before the remains were due to be flown to Hawaii for further analysis and identification. They set them gently on risers lined up inside the hangar as Pence stood watching with his hand over his heart.

The remains were turned over after President Donald Trump's Singapore summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Trump thanked him for "fulfilling a promise" to send back USA remains and said it was a step in the right direction following their summit.

When the remains of Americans handed over by North Korea arrive in Hawaii on Wednesday, the USA military will begin a painstaking identification process that experts said could take from three days to two decades to complete.

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

North Korea entered talks with the United States and South Korea earlier this year apparently because it urgently needs to revive an economy hit hard by American-led U.N. sanctions.

That was the case with USA negotiations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and more recently with Iran, "which continued to build more centrifuges capable of producing nuclear material even as it negotiated with the United States to limit those capabilities", Wit said.

The report says the findings are the latest to show that activity continues inside the North's nuclear and missile facilities, even after the June summit between the United States and North Korea.

The agency identifies remains of servicemen killed in past conflicts.

The cases were examined by American experts who concluded they were likely to be American, and likely Korean War combatants. But many foreign experts say those were not enough to prove it's serious about its disarmament commitment, saying the North must first submit a list of nuclear assets to be dismantled. Trump later suspended annual military drills with South Korea which North Korea had long called an invasion rehearsal.

The Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Trump last week thanked Kim for keeping the promise he made as part of their talks about North Korea's denuclearization. Under cooperation with the United States Forces Korea, a United States cargo aircraft flew to Wonsan, North Korea, and returned to Osan Air Base with the caskets.

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