Texas Political Union discusses status of North Korea in public debate

Zachary Guerrero

Texas Political Union, TPU, members debated Tuesday whether or not North Korea should be a nuclear state, considering issues of safety and diplomacy.

The weekly public debate was held in Parlin Hall, where TPU and audience members shared their views about the growing power of the dictatorship. 

During the event, attendees discussed opposing viewpoints — students such as government junior Alex Walheim said North Korea should be allowed to have nuclear weapons, while opponents argued North Korea’s nuclear weapons should
be detained.

Walheim said he believes North Korea should be accepted as a nuclear state because America’s current strategy against North Korea is causing more harm than good. 

“We’re punishing them for having and testing nuclear weapons, which is an inevitability, rather than (for) actually using nuclear weapons,” Walheim said. “I’m worried … that if North Korea keeps testing nuclear weapons, we’re gonna get into a conflict about that when we can otherwise avoid it. Accepting them as a nuclear state would give us a little bit of bargaining power to help them direct their nuclear program in the way it should be directed.”

Walheim acknowledged reports from last month that North Korea had fired a nuclear missile over Japan and said it was a provocative move, but that the U.S. should not retaliate.

Following the debate, audience members had the opportunity to present their own arguments. Biology freshman Elizabeth Contreras said the U.S. should not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state because she thinks the instability of the North Korean government makes diplomacy harder to achieve. 

“I also think that the issue of safety is something we have to consider,” Contreras said. “We’re going to have more … American citizens than usual in the (South Korean) region within the next five years (for the Olympics), so this issue is something we have to address now. 

Contreras argued that by allowing North Korea to continue to develop nuclear weapons, the U.S. may be empowering them to use the weapons, and so different measures should be taken. 

TPU president Daniel Orr said the debate aligned with TPU’s mission to promote discussion and further civil engagement.

“We come from the premise that there are many aspects to citizenship — going out to vote, being politically active in campaigns,” Orr said. “The basis for political life is political interaction.”