Ahmad Khatami, a hardline cleric close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on February 3 defended Iran’s latest ballistic missile test. “In a world of wolves, we need weapons,” Khatami was quoted as saying to worshippers at the Friday prayer in Tehran.

Calling the latest missile test a “source of pride for the Islamic Republic,” Khatami insisted that the event was not a breach of the 2015 nuclear deal, which Iran reached with world powers. The statement by Khatami, who represents the views of Khamenei, is a sign that the regime in Tehran is preparing to escalate the war of words with the new U.S. president, Donald Trump.

On February 3, the United States Department of the Treasury listed another 25 companies and individuals on a sanctions list over Tehran’s “continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program.” As Tehran continues to dismiss international concerns about its ultimate intentions with pushing ahead with its ballistic missiles program at this particular moment in time, the country’s leadership is also at the same time continuing to incite and interfere in the affairs of neighboring states. Not only in Washington but for many of Iran's neighbors and particularly the Arab states to its south, Tehran's denials of any wrongdoings continue to be unconvincing.