Despite widespread media and social media claims that the North Koreans were not behind the Sony hack, the U.S. government stands by the assertion that North Korea is the culprit.

Obama signed an executive Order today imposing sanctions, as The Washington Post reports:

President Obama, while vacationing in Hawaii, signed an executive order authorizing the sanctions, saying the repressive government was trying to stifle freedom of speech by American artists and businesses.

The Treasury Department imposed financial measures on 10 North Korean officials and three government agencies. They include the country’s main intelligence agency, believed to have orchestrated major cyber operations, as well as agencies responsible for weapons deals and military research and development.

The newly sanctioned officials include those operating out of Namibia, Iran, Syria and China….

North Korea has denied it carried out the attack against Sony, which became public on Nov. 24, and some cybersecurity experts have questioned the U.S. assertion that the Stalinist government was involved.

Last month, security researchers at California-based Norse Corp. said their own probe suggested the attack could have been linked to a disgruntled former Sony employee. The FBI has refuted such assertions, saying in a recent statement that there is “no credible information to indicate that any other individual is responsible for this cyber incident.”

Here is the press release announcing the sanctions from the Treasury website, in part:

In response to the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment and the threats against movie theaters and moviegoers, President Obama today signed an Executive Order (E.O.) authorizing the imposition of sanctions against the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea…..

“Today’s actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilizing conduct. Even as the FBI continues its investigation into the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, these steps underscore that we will employ a broad set of tools to defend U.S. businesses and citizens, and to respond to attempts to undermine our values or threaten the national security of the United States,” said Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew. “The actions taken today under the authority of the President’s new Executive Order will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives. We will continue to use this broad and powerful tool to expose the activities of North Korean government officials and entities.” ….

The following three entities are designated under the E.O. signed by the President today for being controlled entities of the Government of North Korea:

· Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB): RGB is North Korea’s primary intelligence organization and is involved, inter alia, in a range of activities to include conventional arms trade proscribed by numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions. RGB was previously listed in the annex to E.O. 13551 on August 30, 2010. RGB is responsible for collecting strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence for the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces. Many of North Korea’s major cyber operations run through RGB.

· Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID): KOMID is North Korea’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons. KOMID, a North Korean state-owned entity, was previously listed in the annex to E.O. 13382 on July 1, 2005 for its role in North Korea’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It was also sanctioned by the United Nations in April 2009. KOMID has offices in multiple countries around the world and facilitates weapons sales for the North Korean government.

· Korea Tangun Trading Corporation is subordinate to the Second Academy of Natural Sciences and is primarily responsible for the procurement of commodities and technologies to support North Korea’s defense research and development programs, including materials that are controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or the Australia Group. Tangun Trading Corporation was designated by the Department of State pursuant to E.O. 13382 in September 2009 and was designated by the United Nations in 2009. The identifier information for this designated entity is also being updated to include several aliases it uses to operate internationally. The new aliases for Korea Tangun Trading Corporation include Ryung Seng Trading Corporation, Ryungseng Trading Corporation, and Ryungsong Trading Corporation.

The following 10 individuals are designated under the E.O. signed by the President today for their status as officials of the North Korean government:

· Kil Jong Hun and Kim Kwang Yon are officials of the North Korean government and represent the southern African interests of KOMID. Kil Jong Hun is KOMID’s Representative in Namibia and an official of the North Korean government.

· Jang Song Chol is a KOMID representative in Russia and an official of the North Korean government. He is working with individuals in Sudan who are procuring materials from him.

· Yu Kwang Ho is an official of the North Korean government.

· Kim Yong Chol is a KOMID Representative in Iran and an official of the North Korean Government.

· Jang Yong Son is a KOMID Representative in Iran and an official of the North Korean government.

· Kim Kyu is the KOMID External Affairs Officer and an official of the North Korean government.

· Ryu Jin and Kang Ryong are KOMID officials operating in Syria and are officials of the North Korean government.

· Kim Kwang Chun is a Korea Tangun Trading Corporation representative in Shenyang, China and an official of the North Korean government.