US President Donald Trump has, until now, followed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lead and taken an uncompromisingly tough position on the Islamic Republic of Iran. He boldly pulled out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in May, and has threatened to reimpose harsh sanctions on Tehran by November 4.“Before I became president, I looked at what was happening with Iran: they were taking over the Middle East,” Trump told a rally in Kansas over the weekend. “They were taking Syria, they were taking Yemen, they were going into Iraq, they were taking everything! Now they just want to make it. They have riots in every city.”But there are now signs that Trump may be softening his hardline approach to Iran, perhaps with the aim of giving the Islamic Republic a chance to change its course as it is increasingly threatened both by crippling sanctions from the US and internal dissent at home. As reported by The Jerusalem Post’s Washington correspondent Michael Wilner, the Trump administration signaled last week for the first time that it would consider sanctions waivers for countries that have significantly reduced but not completely eliminated their intake of Iranian oil.This represents an easing of the “zero tolerance” position taken by the US over the summer, when White House officials were quoted as saying they were pushing to bring Iranian crude exports down to zero and would be unlikely to grant any waiver exemptions, including to two of its biggest allies and customers, South Korea and India. Now, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton, the administration “is prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis.”At the same time, there are reports that Russia is seeking to open “communication channels” between Israel and Iran. According to a Russian source quoted by the London-based Ashraq Al-Awsat newspaper, the aim would be “to lower tension and prevent a possible confrontation between the two sides in Syria” – especially after Moscow’s recent delivery of the S-300 missile defense system to Damascus.In an interview with the Post’s Herb Keinon last week, Russia’s Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov hinted at Russian efforts to open some kind of dialogue between the two arch-enemies. Asked if he thought Israel was overreacting to the Iranian threat in the region, Viktorov said, “I wouldn’t say overreacted, but I think all the issues should be resolved through political and diplomatic means.” Asked if he thought this was possible, he replied, enigmatically, “It’s a two-way process, not just one way.”German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country has close ties with the Iranian regime, stated very clearly during her visit to Jerusalem last week that Israel and Germany “share the view that everything must be done to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.” Her comments were warmly welcomed by Netanyahu, who accused Europe in his recent UN address of appeasing Iran.Perhaps the world should take note of the wise words written by legendary historian Walter Laqueur, who died last week at the age of 97. “Will deterrence work against Iran?” he asked. “One should not rule it out. Iranian intentions concerning Israel are known, but its leaders do not wish to pay too high a price, such as losing the means to achieving their main ambition of becoming the predominant power in the Middle East, or perhaps endangering their very existence.”Is there a diplomatic option with regard to Iran? Probably not, although apparently Russia, China and the European Union still believe there is, and the Trump administration is leaving the door slightly ajar. The administration clearly believes that new punitive sanctions will cause the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear program and halt sponsoring terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Here in Israel, we remain highly doubtful.Ultimately, the best option for all might be an expansion of the current uprising by the Iranian people to the point that it would trigger an overthrow of their radical regime. The international community should be supporting the popular protesters, not the evil regime they are protesting against.