The Obama administration has imposed new economic sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for its alleged, and frankly barely believable, involvement in the Sony Pictures mega-hack.
Citing the Norks' "destructive and destabilizing conduct," US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement on Friday that the Treasury Department's latest sanctions "will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives."
The new Executive Order signed by the President calls out three organizations and their various known aliases as being "controlled entities of the Government of North Korea," and further names ten individuals as "officials of the North Korean government."
The order authorizes "targeted sanctions that would deny designated persons access to the US financial system and prohibit US persons from engaging in transactions or dealings with it."
The move comes after the Federal Bureau of Investigation claimed to have found evidence linking North Korea to the devastating security breach that leaked scads of internal Sony documents, many of which contained sensitive proprietary information.
Information security experts, on the other hand, remain skeptical. While the US government insists that the hack was revenge for the Nork-mocking comedy flick The Interview, private security pros think it was more likely an inside job by disgruntled ex-Sony staffers.
The North Korean government itself has denied any responsibility and has claimed the attack was the US government's own fault.
Never mind all of that, the FBI says. Despite reportedly being briefed for three hours by an outside firm on possible alternative scenarios, the agency said on Monday that the briefing "did not improve the knowledge of the investigation" and provided "no credible information" to suggest that anyone but the Norks was responsible.
A statement from the Obama administration's press secretary on Friday made it plain the latest sanctions are a direct response to the alleged cyber-attack on Sony – not, say, the death camps and the "unspeakable atrocities" committed in North Korea by the Kim government. The UN said in February 2014 that "policies established at the highest level of State" have led to crimes against humanity within the impoverished hermit nation.
"As the President has said," Obama's press secretary added today, "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." ®