The deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) emphasized the real and evolving chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threat as she discussed DHS’s new Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office Wednesday.
Speaking at Hudson Institute in Washington, Elaine Duke emphasized that terrorist groups and rogue states are working to employ CBRN weapons for their psychological as well as their destructive impact.
“In recent months, North Korea has tested nuclear weapons and missiles that might be able to reach our territory,” she said. “And we have seen terrorist groups use their overseas battlefields as test beds of terror to develop new attack methods.”
She noted how the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria had deployed chemical weapons in Syria and the fact that blueprints for crude WMD assembly are as close as the nearest Internet connection.
To combat the threat, DHS announced last week the CWMD office that consolidates the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and Office of Health Affairs.
“We must be ready not only to defend our country against the threats we are seeing materialize, but also against those on the horizon,” Duke said. “For example, as we see advancements in the bio sciences, we must be prepared for the possibility that innovations designed to save lives could also be used to end them.”
With the creation of the office, DHS hopes to improve internal coordination and cooperation as well as eliminate waste and duplicated efforts.
“This CWMD office will lay the foundation for strategic direction that we need to be more strategic and accurate in protecting our country,” Duke said. “The full range of changes that need to be in place will take time, and we are eager to work with Congress to make sure the office is postured to confront all the threats we are facing.”
Watch Duke’s presentation, where she is joined by CWMD leader Jim McDonnell and Kenneth Weinstein, president and CEO of Hudson Institute.
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