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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

STATE DEPT / FBI STILL BLAMES NORTH KOREA IN SONY HACK SCANDAL

QUESTION: Can I just ask very briefly on North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Over the past couple weeks, the government or the FBI, a different agency, has blamed North Koreans for the Sony hack. It’s become – even as alternative theories have been raised – some of them semi-compelling, at least to lay people – the Administration has stayed firm in its allegation that North Korea was behind the attack. And then on – when was it – Friday, we saw the Treasury sanctions.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that it, or is that just step one? And my second question on this is: Are you still as convinced as you were – and by “you,” I mean this building, the State Department – that the FBI is correct in its assessment that North Korea was behind it?

MS. PSAKI: So this – let me take the second one first, just because it’s a little shorter. As the FBI made clear, we are confident – we remain confident – that the North Korean Government is responsible for this destructive attack. As my colleague noted last week – but it’s worth reiterating, because some of you weren’t here celebrating New Year’s Eve with us – there’s a certain amount of evidence that the FBI made public; there’s a certain amount they did not, that we’re not going to. But they remain confident and we remain confident in their findings.

In terms of whether this is the only thing, one, I would say the executive order itself, which the President signed – and obviously, there was a limited number of announcements on three entities and 10 individuals – is a broad and powerful tool, one that we intend to continue using as appropriate, especially given the FBI’s ongoing investigation. I would also note that the new executive order is the first aspect of our response, so there are ongoing discussions about other options.

QUESTION: So there will be – or there may be more (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Sure, right. I --

QUESTION: So this is --

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, I’m not going to preview it, but that certainly is our expectation.

QUESTION: And I know you guys are loath to answer these kinds of questions, but I’m going to have ask --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Is there any practical impact that the latest designations have on these 10 entities and three individuals? And specifically for these three – on the three individuals, have they ever traveled to the United States before? Have they ever sought to travel to the United States before? Is this not the equivalent of saying, “Go to your room,” except that “your room” is North Korea and every other country on the planet except for the United States?

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Well, the focus of – I can give a broad answer. You’re right; we’re not going to get into specifics. Some of it is best directed to Treasury. Our focus here was targeting individuals and entities that would have the most profound impact on the North Korean Government given the series of actions. This is, again, one step – one announcement – in a broadly defined executive order, and one step in what could be additional steps. Beyond that, I don’t have anything more on the individuals, but --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, you say that it’s designed to impact – or have the most profound impact on the – the most profound in this case is what? I mean, it doesn’t seem to be profound at all. It seems to be the opposite of profound, because it doesn’t seem to have any practical impact, as these companies never do business in the United States, and these people never traveled here or even evinced an interest in wanting to travel here. Isn’t that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Matt, there are a range of steps. I could point you to the Treasury Department. They put out a fact sheet. I would point you to them on more specifics on the impact.

All right. Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:34 p.m.)