North Korea has confirmed that hundreds of U.S. servicemen taken prisoner during the Korean War were taken to China and never returned, says a member of the Senate panel on POW-MIA affairs.
Their ultimate fate is unknown."The answers lie with China. We've got to press them for information," Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., said Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Times reported in July that dozens of U.S. prisoners from the war may have been subjected to medical experiments in China and some executed.
Smith, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs, returned Tuesday to the United States from North Korea, where he met with top government officials and was told about the prisoners of war.
"It gave us goose bumps to hear this," he said by telephone from Los Angeles.
Chinese officials have insisted they kept no American POWs, not counting 21 who asked to go.
A State Department official said she couldn't comment on Smith's statements. But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a U.S. delegation will travel to China next month to discuss the issue of missing U.S. servicemen.
Smith said the Korean officials' statements were similar to those made to him by a high-ranking Russian intelligence official during a visit to Moscow last February.
Smith was the first U.S. senator to visit North Korea.
Smith said North Korean officials told him the Chinese oversaw POW camps in North Korea and in Manchuria, China, during the war. Smith said he saw photos of Chinese soldiers guarding Americans.
He said hundreds of Americans were taken to China when U.S. troops pushed communist forces back to the Yalu River between China and Korea.
The U.S. government estimates nearly 8,200 servicemen never returned from the 1951-53 war.