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WASHINGTON - The United States has suspended efforts to recover the remains of American war dead in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters that the US has suspended efforts to search in the DPRK for remains of American soldiers reported missing in the 1950-53 Korean war because the US believes that the DPRK "has not acted appropriately in recent days and weeks."
"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," the spokesman said.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula increased after the DPRK announced earlier this month that it would launch in April an "earth observation" satellite, or the Kwangmyongsong-3, using a long-range rocket to mark the 100th birthday of its late leader Kim Il-Sung.
Soon after the announcement, the Pentagon called the move "destabilizing behavior," urging the DPRK leadership to reconsider this decision and to conform to their international obligations.
"It's important for them to return to the standards of behavior that the international community has called for," Little said. "We do hope at some point to be able to re-engage the effort."
US specialists had conducted operations in the DPRK for 10 years, recovering remains believed to belong to more than 225 American servicemen since 1996. However, the US halted such operations in 2005 due to increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Washington and Pyongyang agreed last October to resume the recovery missions.