Vice President Mike Pence accepted the remains of presumed US soldiers killed in the Korean War at a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii Wednesday night. North Korea has long argued its nuclear weapons are a response to U.S. military threats, saying it wants to sign a peace treaty with the U.S. to formally end the war.
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.
Caskets containing the remains of American servicemen from the Korean War handed over by North Korea arrive at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S., August 1, 2018. "They're coming back to the United States".
More than 400 caskets of remains found in North Korea were returned to the United States between the 1990s and 2005, with the bodies of some 330 other Americans also accounted for, according to the DPAA.
North and South Korea are among the 45 countries participating in this year's Asian Games. Of those, the vast majority are north of the Military Demarcation Line that separates North and South Korea.
"We have gathered - as the successors of the United Nations Command in the Republic of Korea, and as the beneficiaries of the noble sacrifices of those who for a short while longer will remain nameless, yet in our presence - to render our final salutes to them", United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks said during the repatriation ceremony.
Political analyst and former Clinton aide Doug Schoen urged the United States to put pressure on Kim Jon-un's allies in Russian Federation and China to cut energy supplies to the rogue nation and help stop the creation of new missiles.
The Korean War, which occurred from 1950 to 1953, took the lives of 36,000 American soldiers, and some 7,700 are listed as missing.
The repatriation brings renewed hope to families who have waited decades for closure, although the full identification process could take years.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week that the return of the 55 boxes was a positive step but not a guarantee that the bones are American. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) examined the remains at the air base.
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The U.S., he added , has "to know what they have before talking about caps and arms control". They believe North Korea is building at least one of its Hwasong-15 missiles there.
Still, experts see North Korea's return of the remains as an important gesture.
Pence mentioned that along with the denuclearization commitment Trump had obtained from Kim during the two leaders' historic summit in Singapore on June 12, Trump had also "secured a promise from Chairman Kim to return the remains of all fallen United States service members lost in North Korea".
Byrd told reporters that "there was a single dog tag (US soldier's identity tag) provided with the remains".
"There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea".
A USA defense official said Tuesday that it probably will take months if not years to fully determine individual identities from the remains.
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Experts say positively identifying some of the decades-old remains could take decades.
"I don't think North Korea is refusing to give dog tags when it has more but it probably doesn't have dog tags lying around", he said. But examination showed that the remains were from more than 208 individuals.
The Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The Washington Post spoke to multiple intelligence officials who have monitored "ongoing activity" recently from North Korea's nuclear and missile testing facilities.
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