Nightly News   |  March 11, 2013

Kim Jong Un directs army to ‘annihilate the enemy’

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is attempting to prove his strength, causing experts to worry Pyongyang’s threats could easily get out of control.  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> good evening. we fought a war there 60 years ago that quickly became a cold war . but tonight relations with north korea have turned decidedly hot once again. north korea has threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the united states . today they cancelled the armistice that stopped the fighting six decades ago, and they have cut off the hotline between north and south korea that was designed to at least keep lines of communication open during a crisis. make no mistake. north korea has been saber rattling and threatening the u.s. and south korea for years. but the real concern for now is that north korea is under new management -- a 28-year-old who learned under his father and seems to love american basketball but not america. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell watching all this from our d.c. newsroom to start us off. andrea, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. this is exactly what the u.s. feared when that untested 28-year-old took control of the world's most secretive nuclear nation . he carried out his threat today, cancelling the 60-year truce that ended the korean war . a step experts say could lead to a dangerous miscalculation. north korean soldiers being whipped into a near frenzy against the u.s. they shout "destroy american imperialist aggressor, the deadly enemy of north korean people, destroy, destroy, destroy." firing them up, their untested young leader kim jong un. inspecting fortifications across the waters from the de mille tarized zone with south korea . he told the troops to be ready to annihilate the enemy at any moment. so far a war of words as kim jong un tries to prove his strength and test south korea 's newly elected female president , park geun-hye, who held her first cabinet meeting today. as troops held annual exercises, experts worry the threats could get out of control.

>> this young leader clearly has displayed some very unpredictable behavior. whether it's firing missiles in weeks following an agreement with the united states or whether it's meeting with dennis rodman .

>> reporter: kim cancelled the hotline between north and south . all this prompting a stern warning from the white house .

>> we are certainly concerned by north korea 's bellicose rhetoric.

>> reporter: the white house pressured china to stop kim before it's too late.

>> we believe that no country, including china, should conduct business as usual with the north that threatens its neighbors.

>> reporter: pyongyang is so desperate for cash it hasn't cancelled access to a shared factory zone across the border. a major concern is that the threats will misfire, leading to a shooting war with america's south korean allies and instantly engaging the united states . brian?

>> andrea mitchell watching with the rest of us from our d.c. newsroom. andrea, thanks.