Bill Gates-backed nuclear project stalled by US restrictions on China

A nuclear-energy project backed by Bill Gates will be put on hold due to changes in U.S. policy toward China, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The news outlet reported that Gates, who co-founded the company TerraPower LLC, indicated he is unlikely to move forward with the effort to develop a traveling-wave reactor. The project, which has been in the works for three years, is intended to make nuclear reactors safer and less expensive.

TerraPower was unable to develop the reactor in the U.S. because of regulatory and financial restrictions, and instead established a partnership with China National Nuclear Corp. to develop a test reactor near Beijing.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that the Energy Department released new rules in October and that nuclear deals with China must come with a high degree of assurance that the technology won't be used for military or other purposes. The policy, developed on national security grounds, came amid a growing trade dispute between the two countries.

“We’re regrouping,” TerraPower Chief Executive Chris Levesque told the Journal. “Maybe we can find another partner.”

China and the U.S. in December agreed to a 90-day truce on implementing additional tariffs on one another. The Trump administration has in recent months slapped billions in tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to implement retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products.

Despite the ceasefire established during a meeting in Argentina last month, Trump has warned that he is a "Tariff Man" and would be willing to implement additional penalties on Chinese products if the country does not address his concerns.

The Trump administration has taken a hard-line stance against China on a number of other issues, including intellectual property theft.