Issues of nuclear weapons in Iran fuel discussion

The Political Science Department-sponsored Student Debate Series continued April 21 with a four-person debate on the topic of Iran with the following resolution: “A nuclear-armed Iran poses a clear and present threat to the United States.”

The teams were divided into the affirmative, sophomore Kyle Jenkins and junior Brock Johns, and the opposition, senior Jeff Porter and sophomore Keenan Salisbury.

Jenkins and Johns opened the debate stating that Iran’s threat to the United States is largely through its production of nuclear weapons and hostility toward Israel, one of the United States’ greatest allies. Jenkins also brought up the possibility of Iran supplying nuclear weapons to al-Qaida and the dangerous implications that could bring for the United States considering its current involvement in the Middle East.

Porter and Salisbury responded with the definition of a clear and present danger, stating that Iran’s nuclear program is not an immediate concern as the materials to make nuclear weapons have been accessible for years and not one has been produced. He added that it takes seven years for a nuclear weapons construction and that if one was completed and launched by Iran, the missile would not even reach the United States.

After making opening arguments and each conducting three-minute cross examinations, the teams moved into their final rebuttals.

The affirmative ended by proposing that the United States put restrictions on Iran’s involvement in nuclear activities, give more funding to the anti-Iran governments and conduct a cyber attack and then a strategic airstrike on nuclear facilities.

The opposition concluded its arguments, suggesting that the United States create a more constructive, engaged and responsible Iran instead of bombing the nation into submission.

Salisbury quoted Obama in his final statements.

“We should talk to friends and enemies alike,” he said.

Salisbury, a political science major, said that although he debated the opposition, he is impartial to the topic.

“I enjoyed looking at both sides,” he said. “I can’t say I feel strongly one way or the other.”

For Johns, his research for the affirmative influenced his opinion.

“I’m not entirely for the side I argued, but it seems Iran is a threat,” he said.

A finance major, Johns said he chose to take Assistant Professor of Political Science Pat Cottrell’s U.S. Foreign Policy and Debate course to participate in the debates.

“I chose this class because it seemed fun and focused on different issues than what I normally see in the business department,” he said. “This is my first debate; the biggest issue [in preparing for debate] is finding credible information and formulating it in a way that will change someone’s ideas.”

Following the debate, Cottrell tallied the responses from the audience to determine who won. He revealed that the opposition had the most persuasive arguments.
The next Student Debate Series event will take place at 2:35 p.m. on April 28 in Ice Auditorium. Students will discuss the topic of
democracy promotion.

Felicia Weller/Copy editor
Felicia Weller can be reached at

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