Remains of foreign soldiers 'likely to be American': US agency

US spy agencies have recently seen satellite photo evidence that North Korea is building at least two intercontinental ballistic missiles at the factory where it created its first missile that it said could reach the United States.

Satellite images show that North Korea is behaving like a country working hard on its missile program, not a country preparing to disarm, the Washington Post reports, citing "officials familiar with the intelligence".

But he insisted the Trump administration was still making progress in its talks with Pyongyang.

"Work on the new missile likely began after the summit", one source told The Diplomat, referring to the June 12 meeting between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday played down the significance of the Post report.

"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. "Things don't change overnight", Conway later added.

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

More than 60 years after the last shot in the Korean War, the US military prepared to fly home Wednesday what is believed to be the remains of more than 50 servicemen after the first such handover by North Korea in more than a decade.

Indeed, North Korean military officials did not claim that every item in each box went together, he said.

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. This will mark a breakthrough in a long-stalled US effort to obtain war remains from North Korea, but officials say it is unlikely to produce quick satisfaction for any of the families of the almost 7,700 USA servicemen who are still listed as missing and unaccounted for from the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Sanumdong factory produced two Hwasong-15 ICBMs, North Korea's furthest-reaching missile which can fly more than 13,000km, putting the the US East Coast within its reach. The remains will be analyzed in Hawaii to determine whether they are those of US service members missing since the Korean War. But since then, North Korea has made few tangible moves signaling an intention to disarm.

Trump last week thanked Kim for keeping the promise he made as part of their talks about North Korea's denuclearization.

Vice President Mike Pence, whose father fought in the Korean War, was scheduled to attend an "honorable carry ceremony" at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to mark the arrival of the remains on USA soil. But there is a broad consensus among US intelligence agencies that Kangson is one of at least two secret enrichment plants.

"Regime survival and perpetuation of Kim family rule" are Kim's guiding principles, he said. "But even if they are, you still have a nuclear deterrent, so it would still be a huge risk for the U.S.to try to attack".

Ground-to-air Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) units were deployed in Shimane, Hiroshima, Ehime and Kochi prefectures and Hokkaido in 2017 in response to North Korean provocations.

It remains unclear whether the boxes provided on July 27 include all of the bones North Korea has accumulated over the years.

The signs of new activity at the factory came as generals from the rival Koreas met at their shared border for talks meant to ease a decades-long military standoff, according to Seoul officials.


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