Obama Imposes New Sanctions On North Korea In Response To Sony Hack

The White House says it's 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."

What We Know So Far

  • President Obama authorized sanctions against three North Korea entities and 10 government officials in response to the Sony hack.
  • North Korea's cyber attacks have "become more dangerous," a senior administration official said.
  • North Korea's main spy agency is one of the groups targeted in the sanctions.
  • The official wouldn't say if the U.S. was behind the recent internet outage in North Korea, adding that it couldn't be ruled out that North Korea imposed it upon itself.
  • The 10 individuals who were sanctioned didn't have direct involvement in the hack.
  • The Sony hack made a trove of confidential and embarrassing company information public.
  • The alleged hackers then threatened violence on any theater showing The Interview, which depicted a fictional assassination of North Korea's leader. Theaters and Sony pulled the film, but it was later released online and in some theaters.


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Sony declined Friday to comment on the sanctions.

A Sony spokesman told BuzzFeed News Friday that the company was not currently commenting on the sanctions or the investigation into the hack.

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A senior U.S. administration official said that the sanctions imposed on Friday were "the first step in our proportional response to North Korea's cyber attacks."

On a call with reporters on Friday, a senior administration official would not comment specifically on the United States' role in the North Korean internet outages, but said that there were many possible explanations for why North Korea's internet went out shortly after the hack of Sony, including the possibility that "they did it to themselves."

"This is the first step in our proportional response to North Korea's cyber attacks," the official said.

Multiple senior U.S. administration officials stressed their confidence that North Korea is responsible for recent cyberattacks on Sony, as well as the threats of violence to movie theaters playing The Interview.

The officials also clarified that the individuals and entities named in the sanctions are not directly responsible for the hacking, but instead play a role in supporting the government of North Korea and participating in ongoing human rights violations, including nuclear proliferation.

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U.S. official: The people named in the sanctions were not included because they were directly responsible for the Sony hack.

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Senior administration official: the new sanctions provide "very broad authority" for the U.S.

The sanctions target "any person who has been an official of North Korea, any entity part of the government of North Korea any official in the [Workers Party of North Korea] as well as any person in or outside...who is owned or controlled by the North Korean government or provide support" to the North Koreans.

"It's a very broad authority that will allow us at the time and place...to place sanctions on any of those Korean officials or any of those Korean entities...going forward."

The sanctions "expands the aperture of our authority" to "apply increased financial pressure" on the nation.

The U.S. "will further isolate those entities form the international financial system."

Also, the officials would not confirm if the U.S. was behind the recent internet outage in North Korea, and an official suggested the nation may have done it against themselves.

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Senior administration official: The U.S. "felt the need to take decisive action to respond to this attack."

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Senior administration official: Cyber attacks have "become more dangerous" and the attacks have moved from cosmetic vandalism to web sites to "destructive attacks."

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