For all the incalculable challenges facing Israel over the past decade it is the potential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran that has preoccupied the country's military plotters and planners.
It is this aim that has guided the development of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) over recent years. The IAF has purchased 125 advanced F-15I and F-16I warplanes, equipped with Israeli avionics and additional fuel tanks - tailor-made for long-range strike missions.
In addition, Israel has bought specialised bunker-busting munitions; developed large, long-endurance, unmanned aircraft; and much of its training has focused on long-range missions. Historically, Israel has a track-record of pre-emptive strikes against nuclear targets in the region. For a start it is a very long way from Israel to Iran. As a rough estimate many of the potential targets are some 1,500km (930 miles) to 1,800km (1,120 miles) from Israeli bases. Israeli warplanes have to get to Iran and, equally important, get back.In June 1981, Israeli jets bombed the Osirak reactor near the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
More recently, in September 2007, Israeli warplanes attacked a facility in Syria that Israel, the US and many experts believed was a nuclear reactor under construction.
However, a potential strike against Iran would be nothing like the attacks in Iraq and Syria. These were both against single targets, located above ground, and came literally out of the blue. As is the Israeli way.
An Israeli attempt to severely damage Iran's nuclear programme would have to cope with a variety of problems, including range, the multiplicity of targets, and the nature of those targets. Not to mention Iran's early warning system and it's array of missile defences.
Many of these problems are daunting in themselves, but when put together, they only compound the difficulties facing Israeli military planners. How to get there? Not forgetting how to get back, Iran may be having economic problems but it has a formidable group of fighter planes. But many are older types and Israel fighter jets would outnumber them two to one.
Iran would rely on ground to air missiles to defend it's many nuclear sites, some which are scattered in far away places, under a mountain and one buried well underground, bunker style. Without American support any attack might well fail and with an election coming up, no USA President or Presidential candidate would be dumb enough to give open support.
In this particular case, Israeli patience may just prove virtuous.