Even now, after many years of unwavering Iranian commitment to "the bomb," Washington still refuses to give up hope on diplomacy. Soon, however, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE and his supporters will finally understand that Iran's posture on nuclear "negotiations" has always been a contrivance. Then, when even the most residual military options will already have been forfeited, Israel's only remaining hope for long term survival will likely have to rest upon certain indispensably complementary strategies for nuclear deterrence and ballistic missile defense.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands that Israel can never rely too heavily upon anti-missile defense systems. Inevitably, such systems would have "leakage." Like it or not, therefore, Israel will have to depend upon some form of  "coexistence"  with an already nuclear Iran. Although an eleventh-hour preemption against Iranian nuclear assets and infrastructures might still seem appropriate in some circles, it could no longer be undertaken without incurring genuinely overwhelming costs.

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What, exactly, does Israel have to fear from a nuclear Iran?

More than thirty-six years ago, I published the first of nine books that contained authoritative descriptions of physical and medical consequences of nuclear war.

The report included the following still valid expectations: large temperature changes; contamination of food and water; disease epidemics in crops, domesticated animals, and humans due to ionizing radiation; shortening of growing seasons; irreversible injuries to aquatic species; widespread and long-term cancers due to inhalation of plutonium particles; radiation-induced abnormalities in persons in utero at the time of detonations; a vast growth in the number of skin cancers, and increasing genetic disease.

By extrapolation, overwhelming health problems would afflict the survivors of any Iranian nuclear attack upon Israel. These problems would extend beyond prompt burn injuries. Retinal burns would occur in the eyes of persons far from the explosions. Many Israelis would be crushed by collapsing buildings and torn to shreds by flying glass. Others would fall victim to raging firestorms. Fallout injuries would include whole-body radiation injury, produced by penetrating, hard gamma radiations; superficial radiation burns produced by soft radiations; and injuries produced by deposits of radioactive substances within the body.

After an Iranian nuclear attack, even a "small" one, those few medical facilities that might still exist in Israel would be taxed far beyond capacity. Water supplies would become unusable. Housing and shelter could be unavailable for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of survivors. Transportation would break down to rudimentary levels. Food shortages would be critical and long-term.

Israel's indispensable network of exchange systems would be shattered. Virtually everyone would be deprived of the most basic means of livelihood. Emergency police and fire services would be decimated. All systems dependent upon electrical power could stop functioning. Incontestably, severe trauma would occasion widespread disorientation and psychiatric disorders for which there would be no therapeutic services.

Normal human society would cease. The pestilence of unrestrained murder and banditry could augment plague and epidemics. Many of the survivors would expect an increase in serious degenerative diseases. They could also expect premature death; impaired vision, and sterility. An increased incidence of leukemia and cancers of the lung, stomach, breast, ovary and uterine cervix would be unavoidable.

Extensive fallout would upset many delicately balanced relationships in nature. Israelis who survive the nuclear attack would still have to deal with enlarged insect populations. Like the locusts of biblical times, mushrooming insect hordes could spread from the radiation-damaged areas in which they arose.

Insects are generally more resistant to radiation than humans. This fact, coupled with the prevalence of unburied corpses, uncontrolled waste, and untreated sewage, would generate tens of trillions of flies and mosquitoes. Breeding in the dead bodies, these insects could make it impossible to control typhus, malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis.

Throughout Israel, tens or even hundreds of thousands of rotting human corpses would pose the single largest health threat. Quite possibly, in such an environment, the survivors would envy the dead. Expected synergies, or interactions between individual effects of nuclear weapons, could make matters far worse.

To avoid suffering such unimaginable harms, Israel will soon require a more refined strategy of nuclear deterrence and active defense. Any such strategy will need to be oriented to both rational and irrational adversaries, and also include suitable measures for dealing with state and sub-state (e.g., Hezbollah) proxies. In essence, Jerusalem will need to convince all plausible aggressors - not just Iran - that the retaliatory consequences for nuclear aggressions would be inexorable and overwhelming.

Facing an already nuclear Iran, Israel would have every right to depend more fully and explicitly on credible nuclear deterrence.        

Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is professor of International Law at Purdue. His tenth book, Israel's Nuclear Strategy: Surviving Amid Chaos, will be published later this year.