We had an email recently from an observer “curious as to why the webcam that was inside the shop/bar is no longer there, or at least, functional”. The email was from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in the United States.When we replied that it was simply a short term technical problem, we asked why on earth they could be interested in the comings and goings of a small Distillery off the West Coast of Scotland. Were there secret manoeuvres taking place in Loch Indaal, or even a threat of terrorists infiltrating the mainland via Islay?
The answer we received was even more surreal. Evidently the mission of the DTRA is to safeguard the US and its allies from weapons of mass destruction -chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives. The department which contacted the Distillery deals with the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, going to sites to verify treaty compliance. Funnily enough chemical weapon processes look very similar to the distilling process and as part of training there is a visit to a brewery for familiarization with reactors, batch processors and evaporators. As they said, it just goes to show how “tweaks” to the process flow or equipment, can create something very pleasant (whisky) or deadly (chemical weapons).
As they say: “In the post-Cold War environment, a unified, consistent approach to deterring, reducing and countering weapons of mass destruction is essential to maintaining our national security. Under DTRA, Department of Defense resources, expertise and capabilities are combined to ensure the United States remains ready and able to address the present and future WMD threat. We perform four essential functions to accomplish our mission: combat support, technology development, threat control and threat reduction. These functions form the basis for how we are organized and our daily activities. Together, they enable us to reduce the physical and psychological terror of weapons of mass destruction, thereby enhancing the security of the world’s citizens. At the dawn of the 21st century, no other task is as challenging or demanding”.