WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday in response to a cyberattack against Sony Pictures.
Obama's executive order called North Korea's actions "provocative, destabilizing and repressive." He said the attack constitutes a human rights abuse and is a threat to national security.
The order details tightened restrictions against three North Korean entities: Reconnaissance General Bureau, an intelligence agency involved in arms trade and cyber operations in North Korea; Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., a state-owned entity also involved in arms trade and had been previously sanctioned by the United States for its proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and Korea Tangun Trading Corp., which is involved in "the procurement of commodities and technologies to support North Korea's defense research," a news release from the Department of Treasury said.
Ten individuals were also singled out in the order "for their status as officials of the North Korean government," the release said.
"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," a statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. "As the president has said, our response to North Korea's attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment will be proportional, and will take place at a time and in a manner of our choosing. Today's actions are the first aspect of our response."
North Korea was already under sanctions by the U.S. government for its nuclear program.
The cyberattack resulted in the release of damaging private emails from Sony Pictures Chairwoman Amy Pascal and the cancellation of the release of The Interview after major theater chains refused to screen the film.
Sony eventually allowed the comedy, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, to be screened after several smaller, independent movie chains offered to show it. It was also released online.
North Korea has denied involvement in the Sony hacking case.
Though the United States has blamed North Korea for the cyberattack, a security expert said it likely came at the hands of a disgruntled former Sony employee.