The code name of Pokhran – I test Smiling Buddha commenced India’s journey towards becoming a nuclear power. But with the success of Pokhran-II tests, the acceptance of our country as a full-fledged nuclear state. It was named as Operation Shakti and the tests were carried out in complete secrecy. This defining moment of India’s history is also considered as CIA’s biggest dud who was trying to stop us from becoming a nuclear power.
A great level of planning and a closed group made this project a big success and also very few people were aware of its existence. Even the scientists went to the test site in Pokhran disguised as Army personnel.
Well, there were a lot of minds behind the success of this project and one of them was Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Yes, you heard it right!
During his tenure as the 10th Prime Minister of India, Shakti series of tests were conducted that raised India to the status of being a nuclear state. The entire project was carried out secretly and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the one holding the helm of the ship that led us to this great success.
Apart from this great man, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, he acted as the Scientific Adviser to the prime minister and was also the Head of the DRDO.
"On 11 May, 1998, Operation Shakti (Pokhran-II) was initiated with the detonation of one fusion and two fission bombs. On 13 May, 1998, two additional fission devices were detonated, and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee shortly convened a press conference to declare India a ‘full-fledged nuclear state’ to a stunned world."
Just a short while after the tests, a press meet was convened at the Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi. Atal Bihari Vajpayee appeared before the press and made a statement which read, "Today, at 15:45 hours, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range. The tests conducted today were with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields are in line with expected values. Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These were contained explosions like the experiment conducted in May 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out these successful tests."
Such a huge and important operation was conducted under Atal Bihar Vajpayee's guidance and it proved to be a successful one. Newspapers and television channels were all praises for the government for taking such a great decision. The editorials were full of applaud-worthy notes for the country's leadership and advocated the development of an operational nuclear arsenal for the country's armed forces.