U.S. slaps new sanctions on North Korea after Sony hack

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HONOLULU, Hawaii– The United States is hitting North Korea with a new set of economic sanctions after determining the country was behind last month’s computer hack at Sony.

The White House said new rules would prevent leaders in North Korea’s government from accessing property and entering the United States. The isolated nuclear regime, which has denied involvement in the Sony hack, was already subject to a strict set of U.S. economic restrictions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has maintained that North Korea was behind the broad computer breach at Sony, despite evidence from some technology experts that points instead to former employees of the studio.

“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,” President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama said he had determined North Korea was behind the Sony hack and that the country poses a “continuing threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

Among the agencies targeted by the new sanctions Friday was the Reconnaissance General Bureau, an intelligence agency the U.S. said was responsible for “major cyber operations” in North Korea.

The new sanctions also target officials at North Korea’s Mining Development Trading Corporation, which the U.S. says is responsible for the country’s arms dealing and weapons export business.

Seven officials who represent North Korea’s arms dealing trade in Africa, Iran, Russia and Syria were designated by the U.S. Treasury as subject to the new economic sanctions.

“This (executive order) is a response to the Government of North Korea’s ongoing provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies, particularly its destructive and coercive cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest wrote in a prepared statement.

Speaking to CNN late last month, Obama said the U.S. would respond to the Sony hacking “proportionately,” without specifying what actions his government might take to punish Kim Jong Un’s government for their role in the attack.

Earnest said on Friday that “Today’s actions are the first aspect of our response.”

For more stories on the Sony hackers, click here.

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