A White House official has advised Pyongyang to admit it is guilty of hacking Sony Pictures’ database and pay damages to the film company. Washington dismissed North Korea’s proposal to hold a joint investigation.
A spokesman for the White House National Security Council (NSC), Mark Stroh, said Saturday that “If the North Korean government wants to help, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages this attack caused.”
This statement came in response to a proposal from Pyongyang earlier in the day, denying all allegations of cyber-attacks and calling for a joint US-North Korean probe into the hacking of Sony data.
“We propose to conduct a joint investigation with the US in response to groundless slander being perpetrated by the US by mobilizing public opinion,” an unidentified North Korean spokesman was cited as saying by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The spokesman warned of “grave consequences” in case the US refuses to cooperate.
Stroh dismissed the proposal, expressing full confidence in the FBI’s own investigation.
“As the FBI made clear, we are confident the North Korean government is responsible for this destructive attack. We stand by this conclusion,” Stroh said. “The government of North Korea has a long history of denying responsibility for destructive and provocative actions.”
The Obama administration reportedly believes it is more practical to address Beijing to curb North Korea’s cyber-attacks.
“What we are looking for is a blocking action, something that would cripple their efforts to carry out attacks,” an US official told The New York Times – as practically all North Korea’s telecommunications run through Chinese-operated networks, the newspaper noted.
There has been no response from Chinese authorities so far.
Last month hackers infiltrated Sony’s network and then released pilfered data, exposing private information about Hollywood.
The scandal sparkled by the attack has been linked to comedy “The Interview,” which includes a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The movie had been scheduled to be released on Christmas Day, but on Thursday, just hours after the FBI accused Pyongyang of staging a cyber-attack on Sony, the company said the $44 million film would be shelved instead.
President Barack Obama expressed his discontent with the decision of Sony Pictures Entertainment, saying that the company “made a mistake” and should have spoken to him first.
“We cannot have a society in which some dictators someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States because if somebody is able to intimidate us out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing once they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like,” Obama said. “That’s not who we are. That’s not what America is about.”
The US could retaliate for the attack on Sony, experts told Reuters, with a counter cyber-attack, financial sanctions and criminal indictments against individuals that prepared the attack, but the effect of any punitive actions against Pyongyang would be limited. North Korea has been living in isolation for over 50 years now and all possible sanctions have already been applied to it because of its nuclear program.
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