The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced the creation of a Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office that will oversee federal efforts to prevent terrorists from using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons to attack the U.S. or its interests abroad.
"The United States faces rising danger from terrorist groups and rogue nation states who could use chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents to harm Americans," DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. "That’s why DHS is moving towards a more integrated approach, bringing together intelligence, operations, interagency engagement, and international action. As terrorism evolves, we must stay ahead of the enemy and the establishment of this office is an important part of our efforts to do so."
James McDonnell, who has been serving as director of the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detention Office since June, will oversee the new office.
The new agency will consolidate DHS employees for improved coordination when setting policy and planning strategy.
In a press release, the department said it is most concerned about nation-states being able to attain weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors.
"A terrorist attack using such a weapon against the United States would have a profound and potentially catastrophic impact on our nation and the world," the department stated.
Elaine Duke, who had been the acting DHS secretary until Nielsen was confirmed by the Senate this week, will speak about the new office at the Hudson Institute next week.