U.S. suspends war remains search in North Korea
File photo of North Korea's Kim Jong Un
March 21st, 2012
06:29 PM ET

U.S. suspends war remains search in North Korea

By Adam Levine

The United States military has suspended its effort to recover Korean War remains in North Korea because of that nation's announcement of an upcoming rocket launch, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

"We have suspended that effort for the moment. Remains recovery is, obviously, a top priority for this department. We have thousands of service members who are unaccounted for, to include service members from the Korean War," Pentagon spokesman George Little said.  "We have suspended that effort because we believe the, you know, North Korea has not acted appropriately in recent days and weeks and that it's important for them to return to the standards of behavior that the international community has called for."

North Korea announced last week that it is planning to carry out a rocket-powered satellite launch in April. South Korea has said it considers the satellite launch an attempt to develop a nuclear-armed missile, while the United States has warned that the move would jeopardize a food-aid agreement reached with Pyongyang in early March.

The two countries agreed in October to allow the search for remains to resume this year, though Pentagon officials were not clear whether any U.S. teams had begun searching inside the country. It was to be the first time the U.S. had searched since tensions halted an effort in 2005.  In the decade of searching before that, the U.S. recovered remains of more than 225 service members, according to Pentagon information.

The agreement allowed U.S. teams to search in a region 60 miles north of the capital city of Pyongyang and near the Chosin/Jangjin Reservoir, where more than 2,000 soldiers and Marines are believed to be missing, according to an October Pentagon announcement of the agreement.

The announcement said the deal was separate from any other issue between the two countries.

"Accounting for Americans missing in action is a stand-alone humanitarian matter, not tied to any other issue between the two countries," the statement said.

Little said that although the U.S. hopes to re-engage on remains recovery, North Korea's "provocative" behavior made it necessary to halt to hold North Korea "accountable."

"When there are suggestions that they might launch ballistic missiles, when they make bellicose statements about South Korea and engage in actions that could be construed as provocative, we think that it's not the right time to undertake this effort," Little said.

Of the approximately 83,000 Americans missing from all wars, more than 7,900 are from the Korean War, with 5,500 of those believed to be missing in North Korea, according to the Pentagon.

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Filed under: Asia • Kim Jong-un • MIA/KIA • Military • North Korea • Six-Party Talks
soundoff (36 Responses)
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    April 5, 2012 at 9:43 am | Reply
  4. Coyote

    I don't see any correlation between MIA recovery and a non-offensive rocket launch. I could not imagine the repercussions if countries that the US has previously been in armed conflict with allowed their foreign policy to be dictated by a NASA launch. This seems a bit provocative.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • Jo

      First of all Coyote, This is not a non offensive rocket launch. It is a testing of a ballistic missile that can be used to transport a nuclear warhead. Secondly, We are as of right now feeding their starving people as they choose to spend all of their own money on weaponizing their country. The big shot's in their country dine on steak and lobster while the rest of the country lives on maybe a cup of rice per person per day. Now I'm not a diplomat, but I have spent a few months of my 33 year military career in South Korea. I can tell you this: North Korea's leaders don't give a shit about their people. It is a regime of greed and power. They don't even seem to realize that if they did launch a nuclear weapon that we could retaliate with a barrage that would wipe the country off the map. THEY DON"T CARE! They want THE BOMB and the means to deliver it. In some way's they are exactly like the Radical Islamist's. They just don't give a shit. Now even though we are going to cut off food to their starving country they are still going through with this Ballistic missile test. I know you get your information straight from CNN and your little Morning newspaper, but I can tell you being Special Forces for 26 years, and with the 101st Airborne for 7 that the newscasters know Squat. They know what we want them to know. So don't depend on CNN for firsthand information because 99% of what they report is what we tell them happens. and we don't tell them squat.
      Master Sergeant Jo 5th Special Forces (Green Beret) Operations and Intelligence Sergeant.

      March 25, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply

    How can he run a country or threatne world peace with that haircut???

    March 22, 2012 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • IG88a

      I know, right? Seriously.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
  6. angel611

    Yea, stop looking for the remains of our brave soldiers so we can't bring them home, tell their families, and bury them with honors.
    Now that's what I call teaching the North Koreans a lesson!
    If the North Koreans don't watch it, we will cut off benefits for our Korean War Vets.
    America the stupid.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • Sam

      Hmm, so you'd rather keep searching for remains and just kind of be ignorant to what N. Korea is about to do with their rocket launch? Sadly, and you don't know this, but you're the ignorant one.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:56 am | Reply
      • Ninie

        Hi You actually make it seem rlleay easy with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be actually something that I feel I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely huge for me. I'm looking ahead for your next publis

        April 5, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • HenryB

      No, angel611, you are stupid.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:03 am | Reply
    • Davethecanuck

      You don't get it...
      Stick to the entertainment section.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Jo

      Angel. What is happening is we are edging closer and closer to a conflict with them. If we leave those people searching for remains they would take them hostage and use them as bargaining chips against the US

      April 5, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply
  7. Phillip Webber

    So, how does this punish North Korea???? The only people getting punished are the loved ones of the missing GI's!!!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 10:21 am | Reply
    • pab

      it's not punishing anyone, it's making sure we aren't sending our people into hostile territory

      March 22, 2012 at 10:26 am | Reply
    • angel611

      To insane people it punishes them.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:43 am | Reply
  8. sparknut

    I see that we are still using the bodies of dead US soldiers as bargaining chips. How very sad.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:00 am | Reply
    • Sam

      Ignorant. Yeah let's have a whole bunch of Americans there just in case it becomes hostile territory, so we can have all of these American's in danger, what a great idea! Then we'll have even more dead Americans to search for!

      March 22, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
  9. Dan

    Please explain how they have money to build rockets capable of reaching outer space, but do not have money for food and rely on us and other countries for it!

    March 22, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
    • Realityblowz

      Winner of the most intelligent question of the week!

      March 22, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply
  10. Dirk

    I'm wondering if it is a safety issue? No one really knows what North Korea will do when they do something. There is always just enough truth to what they say so they can justify in there own minds just about any action they want to take. So we have this scenario: the United States has a bunch of people looking for war dead and North Korea decides they need hostages because those searching for war dead are really spies and they should be executed at the first opportunity to chastise the evil American empire. However, America being America doesn't like to admit North Korea has anything America needs because admitting such things according to politicians indicates weakness of some sort.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • Davethecanuck

      It also demonstrates that the US is always expecting and ready for the North Koreans to attack... it's all about posturing.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply
  11. Dave

    Didnt they say the search for MIA was a seperate humanitarian issue not related to any other issues? Missile launch or not, we should keep looking for those soldiers.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:18 am | Reply
    • james


      March 22, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
      • chris

        Just wondering what a rocket launch has to do with looking for our people's remains?? That's on a completely different level. It's like punishing the families of those who are still missing for something North Korea is doing.....Where is the sense in that? From someone who still has an MIA in their family (from WWII) I urge those people who are doing the search for remains to continue to do so. Let the politicians deal with the rocket launch, we need to bring our people home from a war they have already given their lives for.

        March 22, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Sam


      March 22, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • pab

      do YOU want to go trudging around a hostile country while they're shooting rockets over your head? It's a seperate issue, but not seperate from wanting are searchers to be safe.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:23 am | Reply
    • Sam

      Yea, because N. Korea isn't at all dangerous, especially when we hear something like this is happening.....have a little more common sense.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:01 am | Reply
  12. Mike G

    If the white French people vote for anybody but Le Pen, they are dumber than the dirt they walk on.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply
    • Repon

      But may be The President of USA is being over excited as Korea is doing what any other naiton would want , balance of power ,its the right of the country & state itself what if people of any other country decide for USA? i am sure they will do the same (as in the past)& secondly it will enhance the hatred against the Americans & what i belive is Bush has done enough regarding the image of the naiton today for the other world so my conclusion is its just another tool to keep people diverted for another year or two,today i feel as blessed as any American cause the common people are always being played by the so called leaders of State.

      April 7, 2012 at 2:19 am | Reply
  13. mipolitic

    well i read over a month ago that the usa was talking about something and back than i said that it was a scam , and now that iran is going to recieve 120,000 tons of wheat from the usa which will result in some being sent to assad and his troops in syria along with some being sent to north korea is the fault of obamas foreign policy .

    are iranian ships coming to usa ports to get the grain ??

    March 21, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Reply
    • pab

      No, big foot will be hand delivering it in the empty pot that once held gold from the end of the rainbow, but Obama gave that gold to China.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:25 am | Reply
  14. Jim Escalle

    As the nephew of a Korean War MIA, this news is not good. Families of missing servicemen have waited seven years for search teams to return to North Korea. It reminds me of the back and forth wrangling at the peace talks in Panmunjom during the war. Back then the talks were stalled because of POW exchange issues. This time it's over a missile launch. Will we ever learn, gentlemen?

    March 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Reply
    • Jo

      Jim It's not about stopping the search. It's about N, Korea launching a ballistic missile. Now if and when they do this would you want more Americans in there, where they could be captured and shot for being spies, because this is what this country does. We have been Posturing for a war with them since we left the last war. i have spent some month's in S. Korea in my 33 year stint in this man's military. they shoot a bullet across we shoot a bullet across. If thing's escalate when they launch we don't want innocent American's in there where they would be shot as spies. That is why they have suspended the search for now. Does that clear up your question?
      Master Sergeant Jo 5th Special Forces Operations and Intelligence Sergeant served since 1979 also 7 years with the 101st Airborne

      March 25, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply

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