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Obama has pledged to exact a "proportionate response" to the Sony attack "at a place and time and manner that we choose".Reuters

President Barack Obama has authorised new sanctions on North Korea in response to the cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

In a statement from the White House, the sanctions were described as the "first aspect of our response" to the hack.

According to the Washington Post, the sanctions are aimed at arms companies. The sanctions affect three North Korean companies and ten North Korean government officials, including individuals working in Iran, Syria, China, Russia and Namibia, the Obama administration said.

President Obama said he ordered the sanctions because of "the provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies of the Government of North Korea, including its destructive, coercive cyber-related actions during November and December 2014.

"The order is not targeted at the people of North Korea, but rather is aimed at the Government of North Korea and its activities that threaten the United States and others," Mr Obama added.

The Sony film studio's systems were hit by a vast cyber security breach, which led to unidentified hackers leaking unreleased movies, private emails between senior executives, and confidential personal details of staff.

Following an investigation by the FBI, President Obama concluded that North Korea perpetrated the Sony Pictures hack, however Pyongyang's powerful National Defence Commission denied any hand in the attack.

In a statement, the North Korean government added that Obama is "recklessly" spreading rumours that Pyongyang is behind the attack on Sony Pictures and in turn threatened to attack the White House, Pentagon and the entire US mainland.

Following threats of a 9/11 style terrorist attack, Sony Pictures were forced to suspend the release of the movie The Interview, which revolves around the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. However after a public outcry, and criticism by the president himself who charged Sony of taking a weak stand against North Korea, the film studio did a u-turn and released the movie at independent cinemas and online.

The American president had earlier warned that that the US would exact a "proportionate response" to the Sony attack "at a place and time and manner that we choose".