HONOLULU — The United States imposed new sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday, targeting the North’s defense industry and spy service in an attempt to punish Pyongyang for a crippling cyberattack against Sony. The sanctions marked the first public act of retribution by the U.S. for the DPRK’s alleged involvement.
Although it was unclear how painful the blow would be, as DPRK already is under tough U.S. sanctions for its nuclear program, the move signaled that that the U.S. was not backing away from its insistence that the DPRK is responsible for the cyberattack. DPRK has denied involvement, and some cybersecurity experts say it’s possible the North wasn’t to blame.
“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 of Representatives and Senate leaders.
US sanctions DPRK over Sony cyberattackThe United States imposed new sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday, targeting the North's defense industry and spy service in an attempt to punish Pyongyang for a crippling cyberattack against Sony. The sanctions marked the first public act of retribution by the U.S. for the DPRK's alleged involvement.
Calls to the DPRK’s mission to the United Nations and to a DPRK diplomat rang unanswered.
Until now, the U.S. had never put sanctions on a foreign nation in direct retaliation for a cyberattack on an American company. But U.S. officials said the North’s behavior had “crossed a threshold” that necessitated a swift and decisive response.
The U.S. decision also put the DPRK on notice that payback would not be limited to those who perpetrated the attack. Ten people identified in the sanctions are there because they are associated with the DPRK government, not because of any known involvement with the cyberattack, Obama administration officials said.
The sanctions were aimed at increasing the pressure on the DPRK by undermining its defense sector and making it nearly impossible for the DPRKn officials to do business overseas, said the officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Anyone who works for or helps the DPRK’s government is fair game to be sanctioned under the executive order that Obama signed Friday while vacationing in Hawaii, officials said.
The sanctions also apply to three organizations closely tied to the DPRK’s government: the country’s primary intelligence agency, a state-owned arms dealer that exports missile and weapons technology, and the Korea Tangun Trading Corp., which supports defense research.
All three entities were already subject to sanctions by the U.S., which has an extensive sanctions regime aimed at the DPRK’s nuclear program. Re-designating those groups under Obama’s new executive order appeared to be primarily a symbolic move.
Those sanctioned will have any assets in the U.S. frozen and will be barred from using the U.S. financial system. Americans will be prohibited from doing business with them.
The cyberattack led to the disclosure of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files, then escalated to threats of terrorist attacks against U.S. movie theaters.
The DPRK has denied involvement, while expressing fury over the Sony comedy film “The Interview,” which focuses on the fictional assassination of leader Kim Jong Un. When Sony initially called off release of the film, Obama criticized the decision and warned against letting foreign dictators impose censorship in the U.S.
But cybersecurity firms have raised the possibility that a Sony insider could be behind the attack and said the evidence the FBI has made public doesn’t conclusively point to the DPRK.
U.S. officials dismissed those arguments, arguing that independent cyber-experts don’t have access to the same classified information as the FBI.
“We stand firmly behind our call that the DPRK was behind the attacks on Sony,” said a senior Obama administration official. The North’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Last week, a nearly 10-hour shutdown of the DPRK’s websites prompted widespread speculation that the U.S. had launched a counterattack. But White House spokesman Josh Earnest, in a statement, said Friday that the new sanctions “are the first aspect of our response.”
U.S. officials continued on Friday to refuse to say whether the U.S. was responsible for shutting down the DPRK’s Internet.
Story compiled with information from The Associated Press.
Raymond Tanter of Georgetown University discusses new US sanctions against DPRK
CCTV America interviewed Raymond Tanter, a former member of the White House National Security Council about the new U.S. sanctions against the DPRK. Tanter teaches international relations in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Raymond Tanter of Georgetown University discusses the new US sanctions against DPRKCCTV America interviewed Raymond Tanter, a former member of the White House National Security Council about the new U.S. sanctions against the DPRK. He teaches International Relations in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
TREASURY IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
The Executive Order (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 the southern African interests of KOMID. Kil Jong Hun is KOMID’s Representative in Namibia and an official of 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 Korean government.
· Kim Kwang Chun is a Korea Tangun Trading Corporation representative in Shenyang, China and an official of the North Korean government.