US reviewing naming North Korea as sponsor of terrorism

The US is considering once again including North Korea on its list of countries that sponsor terrorism, President Barack Obama said in an interview released Sunday after Washington blamed Pyongyang for launching a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

IANS| Last Updated: Dec 22, 2014, 00:55 AM IST

Washington: The US is considering once again including North Korea on its list of countries that sponsor terrorism, President Barack Obama said in an interview released Sunday after Washington blamed Pyongyang for launching a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

"We`re going to review (it) through a process that`s already in place," Obama said in an interview with CNN`s Sunday morning show "State of the Union."

"I`ll wait to review what the findings are," he added.

The president said the hack-attack on the film studio was a "very costly, very expensive" example of cyber-vandalism, but he did not say it was an act of war.

He also said that placing a nation on the terrorism sponsor list is a systemised process whereby the actions of countries are analysed, but that is a move that will be carefully evaluated and will not be made based on the daily news.

"If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company`s distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that`s a problem," said Obama.

"And it`s a problem not just for the entertainment industry, it`s a problem for the news industry. CNN has done critical stories about North Korea. What happens if, in fact, there is a breach in CNN`s cyberspace? Are we going to suddenly say, are we not going to report on North Korea?" the president continued.

North Korea, which had been on the State Department`s list of terrorism sponsors for two decades, was removed in 2008 as part of the agreement reached with the George W. Bush administration for it to give up its nuclear programme.

The US government says that Pyongyang was behind the cyber-attack on Sony, which led to the cancellation of the screening of "The Interview," a comedy film about a fictitious CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the hacking attack and theft of extensive amounts of proprietory Sony employee data, and it has urged Washington to conduct a joint investigation into the matter, although the US government says it stands by its accusation and has warned that it will respond "proportionately."