Amid growing threats from terrorists and North Korea, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established an office specifically geared at preventing attacks with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The office would integrate DHS efforts in preventing chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks. “DHS is moving towards a more integrated approach, bringing together intelligence, operations, interagency engagement, and international action,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Thursday.
Establishing the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office appeared to represent one of Nielsen's first actions since the Senate confirmed her for the role on Tuesday.
Nielsen, a former DHS employee, re-entered the department at a time of mounting tension between the United States and North Korea over the rogue regime's nuclear program. While the United States has attempted to apply diplomatic pressure through economic sanctions, the North Korean regime continued its provocative missile launches and indicated it was unwilling to engage in diplomacy with the United States.
But according to DHS, North Korea wasn't the only threat. Terrorists grew closer to obtaining WMDs:
Intelligence analysis shows terrorist groups are actively pursuing WMD capabilities, are using battlefield environments to test them, and may be working to incorporate these methods into external operations in ways we have not seen previously. Certain weapons of mass destruction, once viewed as out-of-reach for all but nation states, are now closer to being attained by non-state actors.
James McDonnell, one of President Donald Trump's appointees, will lead the CWMD office. He initially served as a director for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office at DHS.