The recent release of John Abraham's Parmanu: The story of Pokhran' talked about the historic nuclear tests conducted in the Rajasthan's Pokhran in 1998. The nuclear tests carried out in Pokhran' have made India nuclear-powered country. It is a story that every Indian need to be aware of. If you haven't watched the movie yet or want to know in depth about how India find it's placed on the world nuclear map you need to read this article.
Pokhran-II Nuclear Tests
In the name of Pokhran-II, a series of five nuclear tests were conducted by Zindia at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan back in 1998. The five tests included a fusion bomb and four fission bombs. These nuclear tests were called as Operation Shakti–98, and the five nuclear bombs were designated Shakti-I to Shakti-V. Nevertheless, now the tests as a whole are being called as Pokhran-II and the 1974 test explosion as Pokhran-I.
The real story behind Pokhran-II
India has actively participated in nuclear tests ever since the time of World War II. The origin of the nuclear tests was started in 1994 by nuclear scientist Homi Bhabha began persuading the Indian Congress towards the harnessing of nuclear energy. India was further intimidated with Chinese nuclear test in 1964, just after two years of the two countries’ engagement in the disputed northern front. However, India’s efforts towards nuclear program got slowed down when Vikram Sarabhai became its head and show of little interest by then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965. But it was soon settled after Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1966 and when physicist Raja Ramanna joined the efforts. India conducted its first nuclear test, code-named Smiling Buddha, in May 1974.
After Smiling Buddha, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) came heavily on India which severely affected its nuclear program. The world’s major nuclear powers imposed a technological embargo on India and Pakistan. The BJP came to power in 1998 general elections with an exclusive mandate. During the campaign, Atal Bihari Vajpayee has said that his government would “take back that part of Kashmir that is under Pakistan’s control”. Even before this declaration, the BJP had clear intention to “exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons” and according to them, “India should become an openly nuclear power to garner the respect on the world stage that India deserved.”
By 18 March 1998, Vajpayee had publicly begun his lobbying for the nuclear explosion and declared that “There is no compromise on national security; all options, including the nuclear options, will be exercised to protect security and sovereignty."