A former high-ranking official in the North Korean regime said Wednesday that dictator Kim Jong Un’s recent overtures to South Korea have come out of fear that the U.S. will launch a preventative strike against him.

According to Yonhap News, Ri Jong Ho — who defected to South Korea in 2014 and moved to the U.S. in 2016 — told a forum at the Wilson Center in Washington that Kim is “trying to buy time to complete his nuclear and missile programs.”

Before his defection, Ri worked for Office 39 of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. Despite the shadowy-sounding name, the outfit had a very clear mission: to raise money for the North Korean regime, even in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

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