Back in January, President Trump said that European states have until May 12 to work with the US to improve the Iranian nuclear deal, or the US will withdraw from the agreement.
Of the three EU co-signatories (France, UK and Germany), France has come out as most intent on toughening the deal to keep the US from withdrawing, and, according to US officials, Germany as the “least cooperative”.
There are a number of non-nuclear/regional issues where the US wants stronger steps from her EU-partners. These are the so-called ‘sunset-clauses’ meaning that after a number of years, Iran will be free to pursue fuel-enrichment; Iranian missile-development; preventing ran to develop or test long-range ballistic-missiles; curbing Iranian support to terrorist-groups in the region such as Hezbollah and work against Iranian regional political scheming targeting Western allies such as KSA, UAE, Bahrain and Israel.
In the latest (on-going) talks over the JCPOA-deal, the issue of Hezbollah became the most recent obstacle to save the deal as is, and stop the US from withdrawing. The US wants the whole of Hezbollah to be designated a terror-organization, not just the so-called “military wing”. And Germany is stalling arguing against that.
In reality, there is of course no such thing as a military wing of the Hezbollah. As the head of Hezbollah (Hassan Nasrallah) himself have stated many times, Hezbollah is one unified organization with a central command, albeit with many different parts. This is obviously known to everybody, including the German government, but for economic reasons Germany is reluctant to risk the very lucrative trade it has with Iran at present (German exports rose from 2.6 Billion euros in 2016 to 3.5 Billion euros in 2017).
If this disagreement can’t be resolved before May 12, there is a very real risk that the US withdraws from the agreement. If that should happen, the Iranian government has said they will not feel bound by the agreement either, paving the way for a complete collapse. And with the appointment of hard-liner John Bolton (who’s been critical of the JCPOA-deal since it was signed) as a new National Security Adviser, President Trump just made that a lot more likely.