A few years ago, an Israeli F16 fighter pilot I know went on a training exercise for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear reactors. When he got back I asked him if such an operation could actually succeed. He said he thought Israel had the capacity to carry it out, but the military leadership was against it. When I asked him why, he explained that even if an airstrike were completely successful, the Iranians would be able to rebuild their reactors within two years. The operation, he said, would only work if sanctions were intensified immediately after the attack, and most sanctioning countries would be unlikely to agree to that. He concluded by pointing out that Iran would probably retaliate against Israel, and 'while it is easy to get into such a bloody game, it is completely unclear how to get out.'

The recent deal – assuming it's approved by US and Iranian legislators – will accomplish more than the Israeli military would have been able to. Rather than two years, Tehran's nuclear development will be stalled for a decade or more, and a new front with Iran has been taken off the table. This is probably the reason most IDF generals are uncharacteristically reticent about the agreement: they know it is advantageous but are afraid of upsetting the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his supporters in the United States.