Back in Time is ED’s newspaper-like column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to relive it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
18 May 1974, Pokhran
India’s first nuclear test was conducted at Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan by Indian Army today. The test was codenamed “Smiling Buddha” after Buddha Purnima, which was also celebrated today.
“The Buddha has finally smiled” was the message by Raja Ramanna, the director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), that was conveyed to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when the test was successful.
The yield of the nuclear explosion was around 8-12 kilotons of TNT as reported by the Army Headquarter in Pokhran.
Backbone of this operation
The nuclear test was conducted under the guidance of Raja Ramanna, the director of India’s premier nuclear research institute Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the supervision of various Indian Army generals.
The core team of the nuclear project just included a team of about 70-75 scientists and engineers in total.
The operation was conducted in complete secrecy to ensure minimal interference by the outside world.
Challenges faced to make it a success
This was not an easy feat to achieve. It took about two years of extensive research, planning and preparation to make it a success.
It all started when Indira Gandhi had assigned scientists at BARC to detonate an indigenously developed nuclear device in September 1972.
India also faced pressure from nuclear powers like the United States to sign agreements like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, to restrain it from conducting nuclear tests on the grounds of peace building and cooperation.
Many intelligence agencies were deployed by foreign countries like the USA to keep an eye on India’s activities in the Pokhran range.
Despite all these challenges, India managed to avoid detection by such foreign intelligence agencies and conducted the nuclear test in complete secrecy.
A big day for India
India has now become a nuclear power and the first country to conduct a nuclear test which is not a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
It is a matter of pride for India to emerge victorious in successfully testing atomic devices and taking a step towards strengthening its military and defence sector.
The Pokhran nuclear test named “Smiling Buddha” took place on 18th May 1974 making India a nuclear power.
Although the test was termed as a “peaceful explosion”, it was significant as it made India militarily more powerful.
After this, a series of successful nuclear tests took place at Pokhran in 1998 termed as Pokhran-II.
Today, India possesses the ability to explode atomic bombs and other nuclear weapons in a war-like situation. Our nuclear weapons can act as an armor to protect our nation against the enemy.
We celebrate 18th May to commemorate India’s first Nuclear Test Operation named “Smiling Buddha” to give tribute to the incredible team of scientists, engineers and military officers who were behind this nuclear test operation.
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