Nightly News   |  April 02, 2013

Kim Jong Un dismantles years of diplomacy

Vowing to reopen the Yongbyong nuclear reactor, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un showed no sign he’s listening to the outside world and has no intention of giving up their nuclear weapons. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> at the u.n. says north korea is now on a collision course with the rest of the world . secretary of state john kerry now says the united states will do what is necessary to defend our allies, korea and japan. secretary kerry has announced he'll travel to south korea next week. again, tonight, it's not clear what to think about what the north is up to. today they announced plans to get a nuclear plant back up online to make more nuclear weapons . the u.s. is sending more military hardware to the region. now it's down to evaluating risk and an educated guess of what a youk leader of a closed society, who is not yet 30 years old, might be trying to prove. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel starts us off again in seoul, south korea . richard, good evening.

>> good evening, brian . it wasn't just more threats this time. north korea took an action, violating an agreement. north korea doesn't operate like other states, brian . it's run according to a strict ideology that now sees nuclear weapons as directly linked to its survival. kim jong -un today undid years of diplomacy. vowing to reopen the yongbyon nuclear reactor , capable of producing enough plutonium to make a nuclear bomb a year. north korea closed it in 2007 . even destroying a cooling tower . to show its commitment to a now-shattered deal with the u.s.

>> if they restart their nuclear facility , at yongbyon, that is in direct violation of their international obligations, and would be a very serious step.

>> reporter: but kim jong -un shows no sign that he's even listening to the outside world . north korea is making it clear it has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons . in fact, it wants to develop them. the question being asked here is how do you deter a nation that believes, because of its nuclear arsenal , it doesn't need to compromise? it would be a mistake to dismiss kim as a mere boy emperor, stomping his feet. his country has been described as a giant cult, worshipping three generations of a single family for more than six decades. kim jong -un, his father, and his father. the ruling philosophy, military first. an undefeatable military is essential. rivals bent on its destruction must be opposed.

>> people think north korea is unpredictable. it's very predictable. it's very power driven, exploitbly. intolerant, uncompromising type of.

>> reporter: north korea lives on this philosophy, and not much else. it's desperately poor. famine ravages the countryside. the capital is a modern-looking city of more than 3 million. but look closer, the streets have hardly any cars. and yet north korea maintains the world's fourth largest military. the north korean regime's legitimacy is faced with the almost god-like worship of its leader and some here wonder if kim jong -un knows where the myth stops and reality begins? brian ?

>> richard engel starting us off again tonight in seoul, south korea . richard, thanks. this brings