Obama says Sony hack not an act of war

Sun Dec 21, 2014 12:46pm EST
 
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By Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama moved to prevent U.S. anger at North Korea from spiraling out of control on Sunday by saying the massive hacking of Sony Pictures was not an act of war but instead was cyber-vandalism.

Washington's longstanding dispute with North Korea, which for years has centered on its nuclear weapons program, has entered new territory with the accusation that Pyongyang carried out an assault on a major Hollywood entertainment company.

Obama and his advisers are weighing how to punish North Korea after the FBI concluded on Friday that Pyongyang was responsible. North Korea has denied it was to blame.

The U.S. president put the hack in the context of a crime.

"No, I don't think it was an act of war," he told CNN's "State of the Union" show that aired on Sunday. "I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately."

   Obama said one option was to return North Korea to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, from which Pyongyang was removed six years ago.

North Korea vowed on Sunday to hit back against any U.S. retaliation.

"Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the 'symmetric counteraction' declared by Obama," according to North Korea state news agency KCNA.   Continued...

 
An entrance gate to Sony Pictures Studios is pictured in Culver City, California December 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni