Jan 4, 2015 12:53 AM

North Korea blasts US over sanctions

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) North Korea issued a furious statement Sunday slamming the United States for imposing sanctions against government officials and the defense industry for a cyberattack on Sony.

It again denied any role in the breach of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files.

An unnamed spokesman of North Korea's Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of "groundlessly" stirring up hostility toward Pyongyang and claimed that the new sanctions would not weaken the country's military.

The spokesman was quoted by the country's Korean Central News Agency as saying that the sanctions had proven counter-productive "as shown by DPRK's measures to further sharpen the treasured sword of Songun," he said, referring to Pyongyang's official "military-first" policy. DPRK refers to the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The U.S. on Friday sanctioned 10 North Korean government officials and three organizations, including Pyongyang's primary intelligence agency and state-run arms dealer, on what the White House described as an opening move in the respond toward the cyberattack on Sony.

The sanctions will have limited effect as North Korea already is under tough U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program. President Barack Obama also warned Pyongyang that the U.S. is considering whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, which could jeopardize aid to the country on a global scale.

North Korea has expressed fury over the Sony comedy flick "The Interview," which depicts the fictional assassination of leader Kim Jong Un. However, it continues to deny involvement in the cyberattack against Sony, which later escalated to threats of terrorist attacks against movie theaters.

Sony initially decided to call off the film's release after movie theaters decided not to show the film. After Obama criticized that decision, Sony decided to release the film in limited theaters and online.


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