"We [the United States] will be engaging international partners encouraging them to take similar steps [such as sanctions on North Korea] and in doing so we hope to build a consensus and further induce North Korea to obey by its international obligations," the official said at a press conference Friday.
According to the official, the new set of sanctions on North Korea, issued on Friday, would give the United States greater authority to impose additional sanctions on any Pyongyang official, entity or person supporting the North Korean government.
The senior official stressed that this was the first time that the United States was responding with sanctions to a cyber-attack and emphasized that the individuals and entities were not being targeted because of their direct involvement in the Sony hack, but because the United States thinks that the restrictive measures will have a significant impact on the North Korean government.
When asked whether the United States was involved in a recent Internet outage in North Korea, the senior official said that it could well be that Pyongyang was responsible for the power loss.
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order that imposes additional sanctions on North Korea on Friday, authorizing the US Treasury Department to introduce restrictive measures against individuals and entities tied to the North Korean government.
Earlier, president Obama promised that the United States would respond to the alleged North Korea-backed hacking of Sony Entertainment over The Interview — a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The FBI said North Korea was behind the November 24 cyber-attack on Sony, which resulted in a confidential data leak. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has denied any involvement in the hacking, calling for a joint North Korea – US investigation.