• FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. The U.S. is imposing sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday authorizing the sanctions. Although the U.S. has already sanctioned North Korea over its nuclear program, these are the first sanctions punishing Pyongyang for alleged cyberattacks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. The U.S. is imposing sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the cyberattack ... against Sony Pictures Entertainment. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday authorizing the sanctions. Although the U.S. has already sanctioned North Korea over its nuclear program, these are the first sanctions punishing Pyongyang for alleged cyberattacks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2014 file photo, cars enter and depart from Sony Pictures Entertainment studio lot in Culver City, Calif. The U.S. is imposing sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday authorizing the sanctions. Although the U.S. has already sanctioned North Korea over its nuclear program, these are the first sanctions punishing Pyongyang for alleged cyberattacks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

    FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2014 file photo, cars enter and depart from Sony Pictures Entertainment studio lot in Culver City, Calif. The U.S. is imposing sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. ... President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday authorizing the sanctions. Although the U.S. has already sanctioned North Korea over its nuclear program, these are the first sanctions punishing Pyongyang for alleged cyberattacks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In thus Dec. 16, 2014 file photo, North Koreans gather at the Mansu Hill where the statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jong Il tower over them, in Pyongyang, North Korea. The U.S. is imposing sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday authorizing the sanctions. Although the U.S. has already sanctioned North Korea over its nuclear program, these are the first sanctions punishing Pyongyang for alleged cyberattacks. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

    FILE - In thus Dec. 16, 2014 file photo, North Koreans gather at the Mansu Hill where the statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jong Il tower over them, in Pyongyang, North Korea. The U.S. is imposing sanctions on North Korea in ... retaliation for the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday authorizing the sanctions. Although the U.S. has already sanctioned North Korea over its nuclear program, these are the first sanctions punishing Pyongyang for alleged cyberattacks. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File) (The Associated Press)

US says new sanctions on North Korea just the first step in US response to Sony hack attack

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The United States says its new round of sanctions against North Korea is just the opening salvo in its response to an unprecedented cyberattack on Sony. Yet there may be little else the U.S. can do to further isolate a country that already has few friends in the world.

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Even the latest sanctions, handed down by President Barack Obama in an executive order, may not sting quite as badly as U.S. would have hoped. After all, North Korea is already under a strict sanctions regime imposed by the U.S. over the North's nuclear program.

The new round of sanctions unveiled Friday hit three organizations closely tied to the North's defense apparatus, plus another 10 individuals who work for those groups or for North Korea's government directly.