Tester shows mettle in decision to support Iran deal

We respect the views of Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., regarding the president’s agreement with Iran — he’s against it — and we even share his deep distrust of the Iranian government which has, ever since seizing our hostages in 1979, given the United States and the world very little basis for anything but distrust.

Nevertheless, we applaud the decision of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., to support President Obama’s hard-won agreement. And we agree with it.

The accord with Iran is not based on trust. It is based on hard-nosed verification — “intrusive inspections and aggressive monitoring,” as Tester said in announcing his decision Thursday.

Tester stressed that if the agreement is violated by Iran, “all options are on the table” — code for the use of military force.

Which is as it should be.

The United States of America remains the strongest military power in the world. The best possible use of that military might is as a deterrent.

Certainly, we’re very concerned with inspection language that gives Iran up to 24 days’ notice of inspections — certainly not the “anytime, anywhere” protocol originally touted.

The question is not whether this agreement is the best possible. It is what is the alternative, at this point, to its adoption? If the United States does not even try to employ the results of diplomacy, that de-legitimizes whatever else it may do to prevent Iran from getting offensive nuclear capability.

Tester is convinced that the treaty represents the only chance to block nuclear proliferation in Iran.

“After reading the agreement, consulting with experts and listening to Montanans, it’s clear this deal is the only option right now to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” he said Thursday.

Tester arrived at his decision after lengthy deliberation and many consultations, which his staff enumerated after his decision was announced. His process included posting the entire agreement on his web site and seeking comment from Montanans, about 1,000 of whom took him up on that offer.

Probably the more politically expedient position for a swing-state Democratic senator would have been to oppose the agreement. We are pleased that Tester chose hard work over politics and “don’t trust, but verify” over “refuse to engage.”