| Arab Spring Creates Tumult in the Middle East | Osama bin Laden Killed in Pakistan | Advances in Iran's Nuclear Program Lead to Additional Sanctions | U.S. Withdraws Completely from Iraq | Hope for Peace Fades for Israelis and Palestinians | Pakistan's Relationship with U.S. Steadily Deteriorates | Earthquake in Japan Causes Wide Destruction and a Nuclear Disaster | Phone-Hacking Scandal a Major Embarrassment for Media Mogul Murdoch | Parliamentary Elections Spark Massive Anti-Kremlin Protests in Russia | World Population Reaches a New Milestone | Prince William and Kate Middleton Marry in a Lavish Royal Wedding | European Nations Battered by Euro Debt Crisis |
Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack on December 17, 2011. "Dear Leader," as Kim was known to North Koreans, had been in power since 1994 and presided over his isolated country through a devastating flood that claimed between 2 million and 3 million citizens in the 1990s and left the economy in shambles. He taunted the U.S. and the international community with his dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Kim had previously named his third son, Kim Jong-un, as his successor. The new leader was given the title "Great Successor." Kim's death and Kim Jong-un's ascendance put the world on high alert as a power struggle or an attempt by Kim Jong-un to prove his mettle could create a dangerous situation in an already unstable country that has long harbored nuclear ambitions.