“North Korea is one of the most difficult and complicated challenges the United States faces,” U.S. State Department’s Special Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Sung Kim said recently in testimony before the U.S. Congress.
One troubling example of North Korea’s provocative, destabilizing, and repressive behavior and policies was the recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and the subsequent threats of violence against American movie theaters and moviegoers. An extensive FBI investigation concluded that this attack was conducted by the government of North Korea.
“The [United States] is totally committed to defending U.S. citizens, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s constitutionally protected right of free speech,” Ambassador Kim said. “President [Barack Obama has] made clear that the United States would respond proportionally to [North Korea’s] attack on Sony Pictures, in a time and a manner of our choosing.”
As a first step in that response, President Obama signed an Executive Order on January 2, which authorizes additional sanctions on designated agencies and officials of North Korea’s government and Korean Worker’s Party.
These new sanctions are the latest example of the United States’ efforts to work with the international community and hold North Korea accountable for violating international norms and obligations. In the last year, the United States worked with partners in the United Nations to sanction North Korea’s major international shipping company for proliferating weapons around the world; protested a series of North Korean ballistic missile launches; and condemned the gross, widespread and systematic human rights abuses meticulously documented by a UN report last year.
“Our policy aims to [show North Korea] that it must take the steps necessary to end its isolation, respect the human rights of its own people, honor its past commitments, and comply with its international obligations,” Ambassador Kim said. “North Korea is responsible for North Korean actions. Standing up to North Korea requires a sustained and concerted effort by . . . the entire international community.”
North Korea will not achieve security, economic prosperity and integration into the international community while pursuing nuclear weapons, trampling on international norms, abusing its own people, and using cyberspace to destroy the property of private businesses and threaten violence on Americans.