After (If) the Iran Deal: What does Israel Do Next?

Nothing could be more predictable than this headline from CNN today: Does Israel have a military option vs. Iran nuclear program?

(CNN)The Iran nuclear negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, reportedly have made substantive progress, inching closer toward a provisional agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. While the talks continued to unfold this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restated his concern about an agreement with Iran, vowing “to continue to act against any threat.”

If an agreement is reached, the international spotlight will turn to Israel, in anticipation of its possible reaction. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogy” Yaalon stated that a deal is “a tragedy for the whole world.” The question is, however, what can Israel really do once a deal is signed? In recent days, notable conservatives in the United States have attacked President Barack Obama’s handling of the negotiations with Iran, arguing that a bad deal will force Israel’s hand, leaving it with no choice but to attack Iranian targets.

But is this a realistic conclusion?

My answer to that question is “I don’t think so.” On what do I base that conclusion? On expert opinion. To which skeptics would ask “What makes YOU an expert?”. To which my reply is: “Man it is not MY expert opinion. It is THESE guys”. Who THEY are and what THEY say will require a visit below the fold.

Some years back I put up a link and discussion of the following 2009 report by Abdullah Toukan and Anthony Cordesman of CSIS entitled Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities The conclusion I drew from the Report is that Israel could launch a limited first strike at selected Iranian targets but would require American logistical support, particularly in the way of aerial refueling, to make that happen. However it would not be able to maintain a sustained effective air campaign thereafter. It didn’t have the resources and reserves.

A link to that 2009 post can be found in a 2013 Angry Bear update The Map Office Still Calling: Israeli capabilities for striking Iran which in turn linked to what was essentially a Sept 2012 update to the original Toukan-Cordesman report entitled: Analyzing the Impact of Preventive Strikes Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities
My take on that Sept 2012 update is available at the Map Office link and was summarized there as follows:

All I can say is that Israel is running a huge bluff here. There is exactly no way they can launch a successful attack on Iran, and still less a sustained multi-mission series of attacks without active U.S. assistance starting but not ending with re-fueling assistance.

So my question to you all is this: on what reading of either Toukan-Cordesman 2009 or Toukan-Cordesman 2012 or any other equivalent data-based analysis would you say that my conclusion is in fact wrong?