US imposes new sanctions on North Korea after Sony hacking

Barack Obama says move not against the public but those who threaten US interests

US president Barack Obama enjoys a dessert with his daughter Malia (R) at Island Snow in Kailua, Hawaii on Thursday during his Christmas break. The US has announced sanctions against North Korea in response to its suspected role in the hacking of Sony. Photograph: Gary Cameron/Reuters.

US president Barack Obama enjoys a dessert with his daughter Malia (R) at Island Snow in Kailua, Hawaii on Thursday during his Christmas break. The US has announced sanctions against North Korea in response to its suspected role in the hacking of Sony. Photograph: Gary Cameron/Reuters.

 

The United States has imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea in its first public act of retribution for a crippling cyber attack against Sony.

The new sanctions, authorised by executive order from president Barack Obama, will affect three North Korean entities, including a government intelligence agency and a North Korean arms dealer.

The US is also sanctioning 10 individuals who work for those entities or the North Korean government, the Treasury Department said.

“The order is not targeted at the people of North Korea, but rather is aimed at the government of North Korea and its activities that threaten the United States and others,” Mr Obama wrote in a letter to House of Representatives and Senate leaders.

Although the US already has tough sanctions in place against North Korea over its nuclear programme, these are the first sanctions punishing Pyongyang for alleged cyber attacks.

The White House said this is just the first part of the US response to the Sony incident.

The FBI has blamed North Korea for the recent cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. North Korea has denied involvement but has expressed fury over a comedy film by Sony that mocked its leader.

Sony Pictures initially called off release of the film, The Interview, citing threats of terror attacks against US cinemas. Mr Obama criticised Sony’s decision and the film opened last month.

A nearly 10-hour shutdown of North Korean websites last week prompted widespread speculation that the US had launched a counterattack in retribution, but the White House did not comment on whether the US was responsible.

The US has vowed a proportional response to the Sony incident but has warned its response would “take place at a time and in a manner of our choosing”.

AP