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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Obama Announces New Sanctions on North Korea

by VOA News January 02, 2015

President Barack Obama announced new sanctions Friday on North Korea in the wake of the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last year.

The new sanctions take aim at 3 entities -- including North Korea's primary intelligence agency -- and 10 individuals. The U.S. Treasury Department says all are either agencies or officials of the North Korean Government.

'We take seriously North Korea's attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,' the White House said in a statement. 'Today's actions are the first aspect of our response.'

The 3 entities include North Korea's primary intelligence arm, the Reconnaissance General Bureau; its state arms dealer, the Korea Mining development Trading Corporation; and scientific research agency, Korea Tangun Trading Corporation. The 10 individuals named are all directly connected with one of the three entities or the North Korean government.

The President's executive order says the sanctions are 'a response to the Government of North Korea's ongoing provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions and policies, particularly its destructive and coercive cyber-related actions.'

In December, Obama had pledged that the U.S. would 'respond proportionately' to the hacking of computer systems at Sony linked to the release of a satirical film that depicted an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, in a statement Friday, said, '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, and to respond to attempts to undermine our values or threaten the national security of the United States.'

The U.S. has had sanctions in place against North Korea in relation to the North's nuclear program. This is the first time sanctions have been imposed related to cyber security.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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