North Korea has issued a response to the sanctions the U.S. Department of the Treasury levied on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) government following that country’s involvement in the Sony cyber attack. “The persistent and unilateral action taken by the White House to slap ‘sanctions’ against the DPRK patently proves that it is still not away from inveterate repugnancy and hostility toward the DPRK,” said North Korea’s state-run Central News Agency, the AP reports.
After the FBI determined that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the Sony hack – a conclusion that is now being widely questioned by cyber security experts – President Barack Obama promised “proportional and appropriate” action. The “first aspect” of that response came January 2nd when Obama signed an Executive Order that sanctioned key North Korean individuals and business holdings.
North Korea has consistently denied any involvement in the Sony hack, even though the cyber attack appeared to be inspired by the Kim Jong-un-baiting film The Interview. “The policy persistently pursued by the U.S. to stifle the DPRK, groundlessly stirring up bad blood toward it, would only harden its will and resolution to defend the sovereignty of the country,” the Korean Central News Agency said, adding that the new round of sanctions would do nothing to weaken North Korea’s 1.2-million-strong military.
The AP writes that the three DPRK-run business ventures and 10 government officials that were sanctioned by the U.S. likely had little to no involvement in the cyber attack itself; instead, they represent that “anyone who works for or helps North Korea’s government is now fair game, especially North Korea’s defense sector and spying operations,” a senior U.S. official told the AP.
The Executive Order marks the first time a country has been sanctioned over a cyber attack. “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,” Obama wrote in his letter to Congress.