Kim-Trump Joint Statement on POW/MIA Accounting Is Flawed

The Joint Statement signed by President Trump and Chairman Kim (“Trump and Kim joint statement from the Singapore summit,” WP June 12, 2018) states, “The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

There is no evidence that the DPRK has ever accurately identified the remains of any American service member missing from the Korean War. Instead, the DPRK has returned degraded bones that are intensely commingled and have been stored for years. For example, in the early 1990’s, the DPRK provided 208 boxes of remains. In one case, the remains consisted of one partial skull and multiple femurs with a plastic wallet-sized calendar from an insurancee agency in New York that the DPRK claimed was the individual’s ID card.
As documented in my book (POW/MIA Accounting Volume 1: Searching for Americas Missing Servicemen In The Soviet Union, Palgrave May 2018), the 208 boxes of remains (referred to as the K208 collection) have yielded a minimum number of individuals in excess of 450. Due to DNA analysis and the expertise of the Central Identification Laboratory’s scientists have identified more than 50 missing Americans who have been returned to their families.
Beginning in 1996, over 30 joint recovery operations were conducted in the DPRK. The DoD gave the DPRK tens of millions of dollars in cash plus dozens of SUV’s, tons of fresh fish, millions of liters of gasoline and other supplies, all without an agreement or receipts.
The DPRK should not be allowed to recover remains on their own. The DPRK’s incompetence and deliberate deception known as “salting” recovery sites are a matter of record. The lesson is that the U.S. recovery teams should be allowed to conduct recovery operations independent of DPRK assistance.
There are no missing Americans who are “already identified” to be repatriated. This incoherent statement, which only muddles the issue, reflects a near total ignorance of the role of science in the POW/MIA accounting program and bears no relationship to the factual record of how the Korean War missing are recovered and identified.