N. Korea guilty of cyber vandalism: Obama

Randall Park as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in ‘The Interview’.— PHOTO: AP

Randall Park as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in ‘The Interview’.— PHOTO: AP  

North Korea’s alleged hack of Sony Pictures was not an act of war, President Barack Obama said in an interview aired on Sunday that appeared aimed at keeping a lid on simmering tensions with Pyongyang.

With the communist nation threatening reprisals if sanctioned over the cyber-attack, for which it denies involvement, and as the U.S .administration works to calibrate its response, Mr. Obama said Washington will review whether or not to place North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

North Korea was removed from the U.S. list in 2008 as part of negotiations over the nation’s nuclear program.

Mr. Obama, in the pre-taped interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” emphasised that any change in that status could only happen after a careful evaluation of the facts.

And he emphasised that the saw the hacking as “cyber vandalism,” not war.

However Obama faced calls from Republican critics on Sunday to target North Korea with stiff sanctions.

“It’s more than vandalism, it’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in and we need to react and react vigorously, including reimposing sanctions,” said U.S. Senator John McCain, the incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Washington accuses Pyongyang of being behind the hack at Sony that led to the release of embarrassing e-mails and caused executives to halt the debut of the madcap comedy action film The Interview .

The film about a fictional CIA plot to kill the country’s leader infuriated North Korea, although Pyongyang has repeatedly denied it was behind the cyber-assault on Sony.

North Korea on Saturday called for a joint probe into the investigation with the United States into the hacking — an offer swiftly rebuffed by security officials in Washington.

The President has not made clear how he plans to respond to the attack, but asked if North Korea could be put back on the terror blacklist, which currently comprises Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, Mr. Obama replied: “We’re going to review those through a process that’s already in place. — AFP

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