President Obama Places New Sanctions on North Korea for Sony Pictures Hacking

President Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
President Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014.
(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

President Obama signed an executive order Friday imposing new sanctions against North Korea in retaliation for that nation’s suspected role in cyber attacks and threats against the movie industry.

In signing the new sanctions order from his vacation home in Hawaii, Obama cited “the provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies of the Government of North Korea, including its destructive, coercive cyber-related actions during November and December 2014.”

Sony was the distributor of The Interview, a satirical comedy that involving a plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The studio received threats saying that theaters showing the film would be attacked. Sony initially canceled the premiere of the film, but later changed its mind. It is now available in certain theaters and online. Sony declined to comment on the sanctions Friday.

“Even as the FBI continues its investigation into the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, these steps underscore that we will employ a broad set of tools to defend U.S. businesses and citizens,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. North Korea has denied any involvement in the hacking of Sony.

The United States has used sanctions against countries that have cracked down on internal dissent on the Internet, but this is the first time a country has been sanctioned for a cyber attack against U.S. business interests.

The new measures come on top of previous sanctions designed to punish North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. Indeed, three of the North Korean entities sanctioned Friday were already on the Treasury Department sanctions list: the spy agency Reconnaissance General Bureau, arms dealer Korea Mining Development Trading Corp. and defense research arm Korea Tangun Trading Corp.

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SOURCE: USA Today
Gregory Korte and David Jackson

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