North Korea Pushes the Button

Sometimes quiet, sometimes belligerent, and always crazy North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il sparked a global security crisis this morning with the launch of a Taepodong II rocket over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. America and its allies in the region had warned for days that such a move would lead to new sanctions, provoking bluster from North Korea that it would respond militarily if any country tried to shoot down its rocket. Unlike its previous rocket launch, which failed almost immediately after taking off, today's effort traveled further, though the U.S. countered North Korean claims it reached orbit. Still, the launch "means they have a long-range rocket that works," retired U.S. Lieutenant General Henry Obering tells Time. "This has been a long-term effort for them, and they've succeeded. Nothing the outside world has done—not diplomacy or sanctions—has deterred them."