An estimated 14,485 nuclear weapons exist.

  • The Trump administration is reportedly rolling back post-9/11 security programmes aimed at preventing terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
  • The Los Angeles Times reported the cutbacks have occurred over the past two years at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees efforts to help law-enforcement identify and stop threats from unconventional weapons.
  • One of the signature programs dismantled was an elite Homeland Security "red team" that coordinated with federal, state, and local officials to run dozens of drills each year.
  • President Donald Trump pledged in his 2017 National Security Strategy to "bolster efforts to detect nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological agents and keep them from being used against us".
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The Trump administration is reportedly rolling back post-9/11 security programmes aimed at preventing terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.

The Los Angeles Times reported the cutbacks have occurred over the past two years at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees efforts to help law-enforcement identify and stop threats from unconventional weapons.

The cuts were made without extensive review of possible vulnerabilities and directed by James McDonnell, the department's assistant secretary of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office.

Paul Ryan, who helped lead the agency's Domestic Nuclear Detection office until mid-2017, told the Los Angeles Times that DHS routinely analyzes and assesses where threats are coming from, then takes steps to invest taxpayer money efficiently to prevent them. But the changes undertaken are threatening the safety of the public.

Read more: John Kelly reportedly described Department of Homeland Security as a 'mess'

"We're not as secure as we were 18 months ago," Ryan said to the Los Angeles Times.

One of the signature programmes dismantled was an elite Homeland Security "red team" that coordinated with federal, state and local officials to run dozens of drills each year. They were charged with detecting possible threats like a modified nuclear bomb in a suitcase or a cargo ship smuggling a "dirty bomb".

The department also rolled back its use of mobile detection units that work with local and state responders to prevent possible emergencies at large public events.

As a result, DHS didn't send a team to protect the NCAA Final Four college basketball championship in April or to the annual hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque late last year.

An agency spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times the agency continues to work with officials across the nation, though "some programs were realigned or restructured to better address threats, remove bureaucratic redundancy, and fully align with [President Donald Trump's] National Security Strategy."

DHS did not respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

Read more: Deadly plague could potentially be released as a cloud above a city, killing thousands, according to bioterrorism experts

Soon after taking office, President Donald Trump pledged in his 2017 National Security Strategy to "bolster efforts to detect nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological agents and keep them from being used against us".

He also promised to "augment measures to secure, eliminate and prevent the spread of WMD and related materials ... to reduce the chance that they might fall into the hands of hostile actors." McDonnell had previously acknowledged that biological weapons detection "is and has been a problem," DefenseOne reported.

Personnel changes amd infighting at DHS have roiled it in turmoil in recent months. The agency has come under fire for the harsh conditions of its migrant detention centres on the southern border with Mexico, leading Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to call for the department's abolishment last week.

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