North Korea threatens attack against the White House, Pentagon, and 'whole US mainland' in retaliation for The Interview hacking accusations

The country's dictatorship says it has nothing to do with the attack and has criticised the US for spreading rumours

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The Independent Online

North Korea has threatened military strikes against the White House, the Pentagon, and the “whole US mainland, that cesspool of terrorism”.

The warning was made by the country’s National Defence Commission late on Sunday night in response to accusations by the United States government that North Korea was behind a recent hacking incident.

United States officials have accused North Korea of having links to hackers who leaked private information from Sony Pictures Entertainment and who managed to postpone the release of the film The Interview.

The cyber-attackers had threatened violence against cinemas showing the film, leading to large numbers of theatres dropping it from their schedules and to Sony claiming the launch was unviable.

The plot of The Interview focuses on the assassination of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. The country’s government says it had nothing to do with the hack, but had previously said it may have been a “righteous deed” by supporters.

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In his pre-Christmas briefing, Barack Obama warned North Korea it would face retaliation over a cyber attack on Sony Pictures and pledged not to bow to dictators, as an envoy for Pyongyang denied involvement

"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," the commission’s policy department said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

Similar rhetoric has been deployed by North Korea in the past and the country is not believed to have the ability to actually attack the United States.

United States president Barack Obama has promised to respond "proportionately" to the cyber-attack and told US news channel yesterday that his government was reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

He said he did not consider the attack an act of war, however.

 

North Korea last week offered assistance to the United States in tracking down the perpetrators of the attack, but was rebuffed by the American government.

"If the North Korean government wants to help, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages this attack caused," a US national security spokesperson said over the weekend.

Sony Pictures yesterday said that it would after all release the film at the centre of the controversy, which stars American actors Seth Rogen and James Franco.

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US news outlets reported that the film could be released for free over an internet streaming service.

The US president said on Friday that the American subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate had made a mistake by allowing the hackers’ actions to influence their decision.

The Interview was originally due to be released on Christmas Day.

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