Via a reader tip comes news that the Pentagon is stopping its efforts to recover the remains of Korean War servicemembers within North Korea:
The Pentagon has suspended efforts to recover the remains of U.S. troops in North Korea, officials said Wednesday, the latest indication that recently negotiated agreements between the two countries are at risk of falling apart.
Less than a week ago, North Korea said it intends to use a rocket to blast a satellite into space — a move that is being interpreted as a thinly veiled missile test, which would violate U.N. resolutions.
“Look, fundamentally, this is about them meeting international obligations,” Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said Wednesday. “This launch they said they’re going to conduct violates those obligations. And we have to hold them [to] account for that.” [Washington Post]
What I find interesting about this is that when the Pentagon agreed to the deal with North Korea last October it was stated that this deal was not linked to other issues:
The Pentagon statement said the talks will address a “stand-alone humanitarian matter” and are not linked to other issues, which include most prominently the North Korean nuclear program and U.S.-supported international sanctions aimed at stopping North Korean weapon proliferation. [Associated Press]
Why make such a deal when you know the North Koreans are going to eventually cause some kind of provocation? Claiming that this deal is a stand alone humanitarian matter and then back out of it when the North Koreans act up puts into question why anyone would have made such a deal in the first place?
This is an issue that is quite difficult to reconcile because the recovery of Korean War remains has been shut down since 2005 because the program had become a money maker for North Korea. At the same time though it is nice to be able to provide the families of missing in action the return of their loved ones for burial. The way I have always felt on this issue is that this is an area of cooperation with North Korea I don’t mind as long as they don’t try and charge some extravagant price for the return of Korean War dead. You can read more about my views on this here.