20th anniversary of Pohkran tests; Check out India’s journey to successful conduct of Nuclear test

Pokharan tests

Today is the 20th anniversary of Pohkran tests. Twenty years back, on May 11 and 13, 1998, India had made history by successfully conducting the nuclear tests at Pokhran range in Rajasthan. It is very significant date for Rajasthan as well as whole India. In fact, India celebrates this historic achievement as National Technology Day. Know India’s journey to successful conduct of nuclear test.

The decision to empower India with nuclear power was made after the Indo-China War held in 1962. In this war, India lost more than 4,000 soldiers. Then, in 1964, China conducted its first nuclear test which was a big threat to India. The same year, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had asked India to join nuclear club.

Details about Nuclear tests held in India
The first nuclear test in India had take place India in 1974 at Pokhran, Rajasthan. This was named Operation Smiling Buddha. It was held under Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership. The second was conducted 24 years later on May 11 and 13, 1998 at Pokhran, Rajasthan. Named as Operation Shakti, it was held when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister of India. On 11th May, 1998 Shakti I, Shakti II, Shakti III and on 13th May, 1998 Shakti IV and Shakti V were detonated.

Pokharan tests
image credit: thehindu

Details about how India accomplished its successful Nuclear test
It was a long journey before India finally got its successful nuclear test done. After the first set of nuclear tests in 1974, India made efforts to be a part of nuclear club. Later on, India planned for nuclear test secretly after 1974. In 1995, then Indian PM Narasimha Rao ordered for a go-ahead to nuclear tests but CIA spy satellites detected nuclear activities and warned India of sanctions. Later, when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee again took an oath in 1998, he gave a go-ahead for the tests secretly. Before the testing, Atal ji met significant figures working on this operation. The tests were carried out with full preparations in May 1998.

It was highly confidential operation and the details of this test were known to few people. Those were APJ Abdul Kalam (the then DRDO chief), Dr R Chidambaram (the then Atomic Energy Chief), Dr Anil Kakodkar (the then BARC Chief), Brajesh Mishra (the then NSA) and LK Advani (the then Home Minister) at South Bloc including Atal ji.

The successful conduct of these nuclear tests at Pokhran had showcased the efficiency in nuclear power. The tests were unique as the engineers and scientists succeeded in deceiving the CIA spy satellites.



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