North Korea is China’s deniable Ally for Global Nuclear Proliferation.

North Korea is China’s deniable Ally for Global Nuclear Proliferation.

[Posted by Lara Keller 17/12/2017]

Acquiring nuclear armed intercontinental missiles, by regimes that are hostile to the West, is a big deal. Currently Russia and China are hostile to the West and they are the only nuclear states that belong to this category. When diplomatic and business niceties are stripped away, the reality is that Russia and China are aggressive competitors against the interests of ordinary people of Western democratic nations. The interests of Western elites are flexible and not necessarily divergent to those of Russia-China elites, which is a natural mechanism for the spread of authoritarianism to the West.

Other non-Western nuclear states are currently India, Pakistan, Israel and now North Korea. Neither India or Pakistan are hostile to the West, and they direct their weapons against each other. Clearly Israel is a semi-colonial Western state transplanted by Western antisemitism to the Levant.

The North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un is widely reported as an extremely repressive state, that is far more extreme than either of it’s superpower allies Xi Jingping’s China and Putin’s Russia. Both Russian and Chinese communist regimes, have a history of early utterly extremist authoritarian leaders (Stalin and Mao) who brought mass suffering and risked disaster to these one party dictatorships. On their deaths  internal opposition within the inner cliques of the ruling parties lead to reform. In Russia Stalin was directly criticized, while in China Deng Xiaoping criticized the excesses of the Maoist era. Mao is still official revered as the father of the “revolution”, while Putin is attempting to resurrect Stalin’s reputation.

North Korea is not a satellite of China, but China is its only powerful ally, North Korea is internationally isolated, China’s population is 56 times greater than North Korea, and they share a border that is nearly 900 miles long. It is reasonable to suspect that China has the power to increase or decrease the influence of groups within the North Korean regime who struggle for power during successions. It is therefore easier for extreme dictatorships to survive succession crises with foreign superpower support.

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Strong PR attempt to mislead the UK public about the causes of the Grenfell Tower Fire.

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Have not written about the terrible Grenfell Fire since early August 2017, as I spent a month before that, looking at everything I could about the fire engineering causes behind the “rapid fire spread” in the cladding (See Grenfell Everything I Have Learned On The Causes Behind The Inferno ).

The media today reported that the Police are investigating contractors for criminal negligence. Concerned that since the fire in June there has been a strong PR attempt to mislead the UK public about the causes of the fire. In the media the blame has been pinned on the flammability of the rainscreen and insulation (that make up the cladding system). This was reinforced in July by government agency BRE testing of the cladding materials in a perfectly installed setup, in a so called “full scale” BS 8414-1 test. This test showed the materials did not meet the fire compartmentation regulations.

The impression has been given that the “rapid fire spread” in the cladding during the Grenfell Tower Fire was entirely due to the cladding materials used. There is an important element that has been ignored in the media. This is cavity fire breaks, or more technically ventilated cavity fire barriers.

The previous article from August (See Grenfell Everything I Have Learned On The Causes Behind The Inferno ) describes in detail that none of the tests on the cladding materials explains the “rapid spread of the fire”. They do explain how a serious fire would have occurred, that would have spread to some adjoining flats, but do not explain how the whole 22 floor tower block was engulfed in flames in around 20 minutes.

This rapid fire spread requires a wind tunnel effect in the cavity behind the rainscreen and the insulation. This requires that a large percentage of the air gaps in the cladding cavity at the floor levels, were not blocked by correctly installed cavity fire barriers. This involves botched installation, botched cladding design and manufacture, and botched inspection. There is a strong case for an investigation into negligence for profit, that lead to the horrific deaths and injuries at Grenfell Tower.

Some discussion has appeared in the construction industry press about cavity fire barriers and Grenfell. Selected building experts have been suggesting fire barriers are difficult to install, and may not work in all situations. The apparent intention is to undermine the importance of cavity barriers.

There was a useful article in September 2017 “Inside Housing” Grenfell: what did the cladding tests show?  It includes this paragraph:

“To provide proper insulation, installers leave a cavity between the panels [rainscreen] and the foam [insulation], and it is in this void that fire safety issues can arise. In order to preserve the cavity but also prevent it from becoming a deadly chimney, fire breaks are generally installed at regular intervals. These do not block the cavity entirely, but are designed to expand when they detect fire and fill the gap [damp insulation is less effective].

Arnold Tarling, a fire safety expert and chartered surveyor at Hindwoods, has little faith in this idea. ‘How,’ he questions, ‘do you make sure that this continues across every vertical member which is holding the cladding on? The external cladding’s got to stick to something, and so very often you have vertical sections of aluminium bonded to the concrete. You have your barriers coming out from there. How do you fill in all those cavity bits and pieces – the aluminium tubes themselves? How do you fill in the cavity gaps? It becomes very complicated.’ ”

This gets to the heart of the Grenfell rapid fire spread. The design, construction and installation of the cladding was done of the cheap. Looking at limited information on the cladding installation it is highly possible that over 50% of the cavity gaps where the Grenfell Tower columns intersected with floor levels was left completely unprotected (See Grenfell Everything I Have Learned On The Causes Behind The Inferno ).

It is necessary that there is a fight red in tooth and claw to ensure justice for the victims of this fire. Then secondly comes ensuring it does not happen again, and that the UK construction industry is properly regulated (currently building regulations are becoming a joke, which impacts on wider government regulatory climate). Finding suitably qualified fire safety experts to go against the ire of the powerful UK Construction Industry Lobby and its resources will be a major problem.