N. Korea threatens to blow up White House

In statement, country denies involvement in hacking attack, says Obama administration behind ‘The Interview’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a mass military parade, July 27, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Wong Maye-E)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a mass military parade, July 27, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Wong Maye-E)

Blaming the Obama Administration for being behind the film “The Interview,” North Korea threatened on Sunday to blow up the White House and the Pentagon.

Sending its message through the state-run  Korean Central News Agency, North Korea accused the US of “gangster-like behavior,” and said it had evidence that the American government was deeply involved of the production of the comedy about the assassination of the North Korean dictator.

“Toughest counteraction will be taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the ‘symmetric counteraction’ declared by Obama,” the statement read, according to CNN.

North Korea also said that their “fighters for justice include ‘Guardians of Peace,'” who were preparing attacks on the US and elsewhere in the world.

At the same time, the country denied any involvement in the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Such rhetoric is routine from North Korea’s massive propaganda machine during times of high tension with Washington. But the long statement from the powerful National Defense Commission late Sunday also underscores Pyongyang’s sensitivity at a movie whose plot focuses on the assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un, who is the beneficiary of a decades-long cult of personality built around his family dynasty.

Earlier Sunday, US  President Barack Obama said that the US is reviewing whether to put North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism, as the US decides how to respond to the cyberattack that law enforcement has blamed on the communist nation. He said that his administration was planning a “proportionate” response.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union, Obama described the hacking case as a “very costly, very expensive” example of cybervandalism, but did not call it an act of war. In trying to fashion a proportionate response, the president said the US would examine the facts to determine whether North Korea should find itself back on the terrorism sponsors list.

“We’re going to review those through a process that’s already in place,” Obama said in the interview to air Sunday. “I’ll wait to review what the findings are.”

North Korea spent two decades on the list until the Bush administration removed it in 2008 during nuclear negotiations. Some lawmakers have called for the designation to be restored following the hack that led Sony to cancel the release of a big-budget film that North Korea found offensive.

Only Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba remain on the list, which triggers sanctions that limit US aid, defense exports and certain financial transactions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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