North Korea is reportedly continuing to build missiles at a research facility despite its leader's pledge to work toward "peace and prosperity" on the Korean Peninsula, The Washington Post reported on Monday night.
On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence will greet 55 flag-draped cases of what are believed to be the remains of American service members killed in the Korean War during a ceremony today at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu.
Former DPAA official Jeong Yang-seung, who previously worked on identifying USA remains from the North, said it was unusual to locate dog tags during the search and recovery process. "Other U.S. service members were captured and placed in prisoner-of-war camps, where many succumbed to starvation, exposure, and torture".
North Korea may want to use the remains' return to keep diplomacy with the United States alive and win a reciprocal USA concession. That shift has stalled as President Donald Trump has refused to lift sanctions on the country, citing its refusal to denuclearize.
Many Americans who went missing were prisoners of war who died before the war ended or were left behind during enemy advancements.
News of the missile production comes amid the renewed scrutiny surrounding the Trump-Kim summit which took place in Singapore on June 12.
An unidentified US defense official, however, said there was only one set of military identification tags, known as dog tags, with the remains. About 5,300 were lost in what is now North Korea. On Wednesday, U.S. Consul General Angela Kerwin said Wednesday that no money was paid to North Korea for the remains.
"The remains received from North Korea are being handled with the utmost care and respect by professional historians, forensic scientists, uniformed personnel and government officials", the US-led UN Command said in a statement.
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North Korea is continuing to build new missiles, according to US officials cited by the Washington Post. According to the Associated Press, the boxes contain "a single military dog tag but no other information that could help US forensics experts determine their individual identities".
"We look forward to potentially pursuing [remains recovery] operations in North Korea in the future and we're very hopeful", said Rear Admiral Jon Kreitz, the deputy director of Hawaii's military laboratory.
"North Korea knows that we're watching", Bennett told AFP.
Trump made his remarks after the North Korea-focused 38 North website released recent satellite imagery that seems to show dismantlement underway at Sohae.
Pompeo assured lawmakers that the USA was working toward finding a solution without easing its sanctions against North Korea, but also admitted during his testimony that it was "continuing to create fissile material".
The North Koreans "never agreed to give up their nuclear program", said Ken Gause, a North Korea expert at the Center for Naval Analysis.
In reality, North Korea is one of the world's most impoverished countries and arguably the most repressive regime in the world. "North Korea has great potential for the future!"
The official declined to comment on U.S. spy satellite material that has detected renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country's first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States.