US Sanctions North Korea Over Sony Hack Attack

“Today’s actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilizing conduct,” says Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew

Last Updated: January 2, 2015 @ 12:06 PM

President Barack Obama has imposed new sanctions against North Korea as punishment for the country masterminding the hacking attack that crippled Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“In response to the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyberattack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment and the threats against movie theaters and moviegoers, President Obama today signed an Executive Order (E.O.) authorizing the imposition of sanctions against the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea,” the Department of Treasury said in a statement on Friday.

The sanctions target three organizations: the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), North Korea’s primary intelligence organization, Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID), North Korea’s primary arms dealer, and Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, which is “primarily responsible for the procurement of commodities and technologies to support North Korea’s defense research and development programs.”

Furthermore, 10 individual officials of the North Korean government were listed in the executive order.

“Today’s actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilizing conduct. 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,” said Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew.

“The actions taken today under the authority of the President’s new Executive Order will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives. We will continue to use this broad and powerful tool to expose the activities of North Korean government officials and entities.”

The sanctions come after Obama promised the U.S. would levy a “proportional response” after the FBI officially concluded North Korea was responsible for the Sony hack attack which led to terabytes of private company data being leaked online, forcing the studio to pull Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy “The Interview” from theaters after a threat of physical violence.

North Korea suffered from severe Internet outages days after Obama’s public statement, but U.S. government officials declined to take credit.

“We aren’t going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kinds of reports in any way except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen,” said deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf at a regularly scheduled briefing.

Obama also previously called the hacking “cyber vandalism” but stopped short of describing it as an act of war. For its part, North Korea has denied involvement in the Sony hack but turned the tables in the war of words, by threatening severe retaliation.

The U.S. government “conceived and produced” the movie “The Interview” along with Sony, the Kim Jong-un–led government charged in a statement carried on the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), as TheWrap previously reported.

“Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction,” the statement said in broken English. “Our target is all the citadels of the U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans.”

Read the full statement from the Treasury Department below:

Treasury Imposes Sanctions Against the Government of The Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea

1/2/2015

Action Targets the Government of North Korea in Response to Recent Provocations

WASHINGTON – In response to the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment and the threats against movie theaters and moviegoers, President Obama today signed an Executive Order (E.O.) authorizing the imposition of sanctions against the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea. This step reflects the ongoing commitment of the United States to hold North Korea accountable for its destabilizing, destructive and repressive actions, particularly its efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech.

Pursuant to the authorities of this new E.O., Treasury today has designated three entities and 10 individuals for being agencies or officials of the North Korean government.

“Today’s actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilizing conduct. 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,” said Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew. “The actions taken today under the authority of the President’s new Executive Order will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives. We will continue to use this broad and powerful tool to expose the activities of North Korean government officials and entities.”

Targeting the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea

The E.O. signed today escalates financial pressure on the Government of North Korea, including its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities, by authorizing targeted sanctions that would deny designated persons access to the U.S. financial system and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions or dealings with it.

The E.O. authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to apply sanctions against officials of the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea, and persons determined to be owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, or to have provided material support for the Government of North Korea, Workers’ Party of Korea, or any other person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the Order.

Designations under the New E.O.

The following three entities are designated under the E.O. signed by the President today for being controlled entities of the Government of North Korea:

· Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB): RGB is North Korea’s primary intelligence organization and is involved, inter alia, in a range of activities to include conventional arms trade proscribed by numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions. RGB was previously listed in the annex to E.O. 13551 on August 30, 2010. RGB is responsible for collecting strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence for the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces. Many of North Korea’s major cyber operations run through RGB.

· Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID): KOMID is North Korea’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons. KOMID, a North Korean state-owned entity, was previously listed in the annex to E.O. 13382 on July 1, 2005 for its role in North Korea’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It was also sanctioned by the United Nations in April 2009. KOMID has offices in multiple countries around the world and facilitates weapons sales for the North Korean government.

· Korea Tangun Trading Corporation is subordinate to the Second Academy of Natural Sciences and is primarily responsible for the procurement of commodities and technologies to support North Korea’s defense research and development programs, including materials that are controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or the Australia Group. Tangun Trading Corporation was designated by the Department of State pursuant to E.O. 13382 in September 2009 and was designated by the United Nations in 2009. The identifier information for this designated entity is also being updated to include several aliases it uses to operate internationally. The new aliases for Korea Tangun Trading Corporation include Ryung Seng Trading Corporation, Ryungseng Trading Corporation, and Ryungsong Trading Corporation.

The following 10 individuals are designated under the E.O. signed by the President today for their status as officials of the North Korean government:

· Kil Jong Hun and Kim Kwang Yon are officials of the North Korean government and represent thesouthern African interests of KOMID. Kil Jong Hun is KOMID’s Representative in Namibia and an officialof the North Korean government.

· Jang Song Chol is a KOMID representative in Russia and an official of the North Korean government. He is working with individuals in Sudan who are procuring materials from him.

· Yu Kwang Ho is an official of the North Korean government.

· Kim Yong Chol is a KOMID Representative in Iran and an official of the North Korean Government.

· Jang Yong Son is a KOMID Representative in Iran and an official of the North Korean government.

· Kim Kyu is the KOMID External Affairs Officer and an official of the North Korean government.

· Ryu Jin and Kang Ryong are KOMID officials operating in Syria and are officials of the North Koreangovernment.

· Kim Kwang Chun is a Korea Tangun Trading Corporation representative in Shenyang, China and anofficial of the North Korean government.