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Latest UpdatesHistoryMay 18 1974: When India became nuclear power with operation ‘Smiling Buddha’ 

May 18 1974: When India became nuclear power with operation ‘Smiling Buddha’ 

On May 18, 1974, India conducted its first atomic bomb test successfully at the army base at Pokhran in Rajasthan. The operation ‘Pokhran-I’ was undertaken with the code name ‘Smiling Buddha’ under the supervision of several key Indian Army generals.

The then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi felt the need to make India a nuclear power after winning the war against Pakistan in 1971.

On 7 September, 1972, she gave verbal authorization to Indian scientists to manufacture nuclear device and make preparations for a test. Till that time, the permanent members of the United Nations possessed nuclear weapons which included United States, France, China (the Republic of China), Russia (Soviet Union) and United Kingdom.

Soon after these orders, started the preparations for making India a nuclear power. The practical work of engineering the paper design for the operation ‘Smiling Buddha’ started. Works started for locating, surveying, and preparing a suitable test site.

The operation was kept a secret due to international pressure by permanent members of United Nations which was against any country practicing nuclear test.

The government employed 75 civilian scientists for the project which included Raja Ramanna, Basanti Dulal Nagchaudhuri and Dr. Nagapattinam Sambasiva Venkatesan among others who played a key part for completing the operation. The DRDO Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) in Chandigarh developed and manufactured high explosive implosion system, which after being tested on May 18, 1974, madeIndia the sixth nation in the world to become a Nuclear power.

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