PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- North Korea condemned a new set of U.S. sanctions Sunday, calling them hostile and inflammatory.
The sanctions follow the FBI's blaming North Korea for a cyberattack last month on Sony Pictures in reprisal for The Interview, a comedic movie about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted an interior ministry spokesman for the country, who said tightened sanctions announced Friday by U.S. President Barack Obama were based on a preexisting adversarial attitude toward the communist nation:
"The policy persistently pursued by the US to stifle the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea], groundlessly stirring up bad blood towards it, would only harden its will and resolution to defend the sovereignty of the country. The persistent and unilateral action taken by the White House to slap 'sanctions' against the DPRK patently proves that it is still not away from inveterate repugnancy and hostility toward the DPRK."
North Korea previously praised the Sony hack but denied any involvement. The breach exposed emails from company leaders and resulted in a brief cancellation of The Interview. North Korea offered to conduct a joint investigation into the incident, but the U.S. refused.
At least one security expert said a former employee may have been behind the computer breach at Sony, though U.S. officials have contended that private firms are not privy to the government's intelligence implicating Pyongyang.
Obama called North Korea's actions "provocative, destabilizing and repressive," and a threat to national security.
Friday's announcement indicated tightened sanctions against three North Korean government entities related to arms trade, defense technology and cyber warfare, as well as against 10 individuals recognized "for their status as officials of the North Korean government."
U.S. officials said the individuals were not directly responsible for the Sony hack, but that they were singled out for their representation of North Korea in arms trade to Africa, Syria, Iran and Russia.