Saturday, 20 July, 2019

US identifies two sets of Korean War remains: James Mattis

Jennie Jin a forensic anthropologist shows some of the objects that accompanied the human remains handed over by North Korea Modal Trigger Jennie Jin a forensic anthropologist shows some of the objects that accompanied the human remains handed over by North Korea. Reuters
Deanna Wagner | 14 September, 2018, 06:28

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii-The U.S. has identified the remains of two service members among the 55 boxes returned by North Korea this summer, officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accountability Agency said Monday.

The forensic teams have reportedly analyzed 23 of the 55 sets of remains, though some are more complete than others.

"We will notify the family first", John Byrd, the director of scientific analysis at the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency explained to Reuters Monday.

North Korea turned over 55 boxes of remains to US officials at Wonsan, North Korea, on July 27.

Between 1996 and 2005, the US worked with North Korea and recovered around 400 caskets of remains, though Washington halted the cooperation in 2005 as it could not guarantee the safety of its personnel.

"It's a huge battle", said Jin, who estimated that 1,700 of the missing USA forces from the war came from that fight alone. One of the deceased is presumed to be African-American.

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"We have identified a couple of the remains", Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, clarifying later that it was two sets. Despite setbacks in the nuclear negotiations, North Korea has maintained its moratorium on weapons testing, has toned down its rhetoric, and attempted to downplay the threatening nature of its arsenal, as was evidenced by its decision not to feature ICBMs in its most recent military parade.

Forensic anthropologists are combing through the remains at a secure facility on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Sampling for DNA analysis has been carried out so far on about half of the boxes of remains, they said.

The Pentagon has said it is considering the possibility of sending personnel to North Korea to search for more remains.

The July transfer coincided with the 65th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting between North Korean and Chinese forces and South Korean and USA -led forces under the U.N. Command.