North Korea at it again

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LISA MULLINS: I'm Lisa Mullins, and this is The World. North Korea was at it again today. The country test fired two short-range missiles. That was just hours after the UN Security Council condemned Pyongyang for its nuclear tests. UN diplomats are back at work today. They're drafting a resolution to punish North Korea for its nuclear detonation. United States is calling for tough measures and sanctions; but the resolution will only be as tough as North Korea's sole ally, China, allows it to be, Our coverage begins now with The World's Mary Kay Magistad, in Beijing.

MARY KAY MAGISTAD: China's Foreign Ministry spokesman was asked today at a regularly scheduled briefing what China would do about North Korea's nuclear test. Ma Zhaxou gave an answer that was almost exactly what China said after North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006.

MA ZHAXOU: The Chinese said vehemently demands that North Korea abide by its de-nuclearization efforts, stop any action that could worsen the situation, and return to the six-party talks. The Chinese government calls on all sides to calmly and appropriately deal with the situation and resolve the issue peacefully and dialogue and negotiation. China will continue to work towards this effort.

MAGISTAD: The Obama administration certainly hopes so. China has more leverage than anyone else, given that it does $2 billion in annual trade and investment in North Korea. Senator John Kerry is now visiting Beijing. Kerry says he's raising the issue of North Korea's nuclear test in his talks with Chinese officials.

JOHN KERRY: Not only does North Korea and its program hang in the balance of what we decide to do, but this will have a profound effect on what the Iranians believe the world is willing to do. And on how serious non-proliferation efforts will be as we go forward. We need, obviously, to have China be very much a partner in that effort.

MAGISTAD: But China's weighing a different set of concerns. Some overlap with those of US, South Korea and Japan. Some are China's alone. The Chinese don't want to press North Korea too hard, lest China's political and economic interests there suffer. Beijing also doesn't want to push a regime with an ailing leader and a strong military that could spill across China's border. Although, Defense analysts say China's military has contingency plans to go in if such a crisis erupts. So those looking to China to impose tough sanctions and cut off vital supplies to North Korea could be disappointed. A better bet might be on more subtle Chinese efforts to calm things down if not necessarily to rid North Korea of its nuclear program for good. For The World, I'm Mary Kay Magistad, in Beijing.