The day was May 18 in the year 1974. On this day, the Indian government conducted its first nuclear test in the deserts of Pokhran, Rajasthan making it a peaceful nuclear explosion.
Smiling Buddha’ (MEA designation: Pokhran-I) was the assigned code name of India’s first successful nuclear bomb test.
With the Smiling Buddha, India became the world’s sixth nuclear power after the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France and China to successfully test out a nuclear bomb.
Here is the history and aftermath of the nuclear test:
- India started its own nuclear program in 1944
- Physicist Raja Ramanna expanded and supervised scientific research on nuclear weapons and was the first directing officer of a small team of scientists that supervised and carried out the tests
- Th name Pokhran came from the place it was tested which is a city of the same name located in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
- A team of 75 scientists and engineers, led by Raja Ramanna, PK Iyengar, Rajagopala Chidambaram and others had worked on it from 1967 to 1974
- The test was a success but the aftermath of the nuclear test was not an encouraging one
- The test became the center of attention as there was widespread outrage and concern over the move since this nuclear bomb was tested by the country, which was outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and the experiments took place without any warning to the international community
- As a result, the US took offense to India barging into the nuclear society without any warning and then, blocked aid to India and imposed numerous sanctions
- The device tested was a fission device and there had been no release of radioactivity in the atmosphere
- Although, India has still not joined the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, claiming that the nuclear tests were for peaceful reasons, the nuclear deal between India and the United States showed that India’s status as a responsible nuclear power has been accepted by the rest of the world.