Smiling Buddha: Codeword for India’s nuclear test; here is all you need to know about it

Today India is observing the 46th anniversary of first nuclear test conducted on May 18, 1974

It was a very proud and happy moment when India successfully conducted the first nuclear test at Pokhran in Rajasthan, and made it into the world nuclear countries.

Here is all you need to know about the operation “Smiling Buddha”

India’s nuclear journey started on September 7, 1972, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave a nod to scientists to detonate an indigenously designed nuclear device. The nuclear test was code named as “Smiling Buddha” and was conducted on May 18, 1972. As the test was conducted on Buddha Purnima, it was named as “Smiling Buddha”. After the successful conduct of the test, the director of India’s premier nuclear research institute Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Raja Ramana, conveyed a message to the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that “The Buddha has Finally Smiled.”

The was the first nuclear test conducted by the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.  The grateful thing was that India conducted the test without getting caught by the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Read more: India received its first Nobel Prize 12 years after the Debut

It was debated that the device detonated at Pokhran, is believed that the actual yield was about 8-12 kilotons of TNT. The implosion system of the device was assembled at DRDO’s Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory in Chandigarh and the detonation system of the device was assembled at the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) of the DRDO in Pune.

A team of 75 scientists and engineers were secretly working on the project from 1967 to 1974. Apart from those who were working on the project, there were only three people who knew of it, Prime Minister Indra Gandhi, his adviser P.N. Haksar and principal secretary D.P Dhar. No other government agencies were informed including the defense ministry.

The test was scheduled at 8 am. But was delayed by five minutes one of the engineers got stranded at the testing site while checking high speed camera when his jeep didn’t start.

India conducted the test and entered the Nuclear power nation but India also had to suffer for it. Sanctions were imposed by developed nations which said that such tests can lead to nuclear proliferation. India’s test came six years after the international community concluded the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 that divided the world.

After the 1974 nuclear test, India went on and successfully conducted five more nuclear tests, Three on May 11, and two on May 13, 1998 at the Pokhran Range. The operation was codenamed “Operation Shakti” and was carried out under the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure.

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