Updated (11:25 p.m.) After weeks of warnings and several stops and starts, North Korea launched its long range rocket on Tuesday night. It crashed into the waters off the Philipines just a few moments later. The reports, if true, are sort of a miracle since just 12 hours ago, North Korea's space-bound missile was experiencing some pretty serious malfunctions and was being dismantled. That's why they pushed the launch back a week. Did we mention this major malfunction happened 12 hours ago? Well, it sounds like the North Korean rocket scientists should've stuck with the earlier plan, since pieces of the rocket started raining down into the Pacific Ocean a few minutes after launch.
Nevertheless, the North Korean press reported a few minutes later that the rocket had entered orbit. Subsequent reports backed up that claim, and American officials seemed convinced a couple hours after launch, when NORAD declared that North Korea did in fact "deploy and object that appeared to achieve orbit." It'll take a little bit of time for the diplomatic community to properly gather together and talk through a collective response, but when North Korea's neighbors are calling emergency security council meetings, it's hard to believe that response will be a positive one. In North Korea, at least, the successful rocket launch is a tremendous win for the young Kim Jong Un, who took power almost a year ago to the day after his father Kim Jong Il passed away.
Regardless of the mission's success or failure, North Korea's rocket launch is not making the country any friends. Seemingly seconds after the rocket left the ground, South Korea called an emergency security meeting. Japan called the launch "unacceptable" and said that it "cannot tolerate this action," after denying having attempted to intercept the rocket. Japan also scheduled a meeting of its security council. Even China, North Korea's closest ally expressed "deep concern" over the rocket launch plan. The United States, well, we have warships standing by. Let's hope this doesn't get to that.