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The Domestic Sources of International Regimes: The Evolution of Nuclear Ambiguity in the Middle East

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

A major task of the literature on international regimes is the attempt to identify the conditions under which regimes are likely to emerge. The article evaluates the contribution of this literature to understanding the absence of a nuclear regime in the Middle East and the likely paths which may lead to one in the future. I identify four possible stylized outcomes: overt deterrence, regional "opaqueness," controlled prolif­eration, and a nuclear-weapons-free-zone; only the last two fulfill the definitional requirements of a regime. I explore how the three major theoretical thrusts in regime theory-neorealism, neoliberal institution­alism, and reflectivism--explain why regional opaqueness-rather than overt deterrence or a regime-has been the outcome so far. I then suggest that analyzing the domestic consequences of each regional outcome appears more useful than its conceptual alternatives in ex­plaining why opaqueness was maintained, and why it may be aban­doned. The article ends with some lessons from this case for the study of regional and international regimes.

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