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Pokhran-II - Pokhran II

India Nuclear Test Series in May 1998

The Pokhran II - Tests were a series of five atomic bomb test explosions carried out by India at the Indian Army's Pokhran Test Range in May 1998. It was the second instance of atomic bomb tests carried out by India; The first test with the code name Smiling Buddha was carried out in May 1974.

The tests achieved their main objective of giving India the ability to build fissile and nuclear weapons with yields of up to 200 kilotons. The then chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission described each of the explosions from Pokhran II as "equivalent to several tests carried out by other nuclear-weapon states over decades". India then set up a computer simulation function to predict the yields of nuclear explosives, the designs of which are related to the designs of the explosives used in this test.

Pokhran II consisted of five detonations, the first of which was a fusion bomb, while the remaining four were fissure bombs. The tests began on May 11, 1998 under the assigned code name Operation Shakti with the detonation of one fusion bomb and two fission bombs. On May 13, 1998, two additional fission devices were detonated and the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, shortly convened a press conference to declare India a fully fledged nuclear state. The tests resulted in a series of sanctions against India by a number of key states, including Japan and the United States.

Many names have been assigned to these tests. Originally these were collectively known as Operation Shakti-98 called , and the five atomic bombs were called Shakti-I to Shakti-V called . More recently, the operation as a whole has been called Pokhran II and the 1974 explosion as Pokhran-I known .

India's atomic bomb project

India has made efforts to build the atomic bomb, infrastructure and research into related technologies since World War II. The origins of the Indian nuclear program go back to 1944, when the nuclear physicist Homi Bhabha began to convince the Indian Congress to use nuclear energy - a year later he founded the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

In the 1950s, preliminary studies were carried out at the BARC and plans for the production of plutonium and other bomb components were developed. In 1962, India and China engaged in the controversial Northern Front and was further intimidated with a Chinese nuclear test in 1964 towards the militarization of the nuclear program when Vikram Sarabhai became his head and Lal Bahadur Shastri showed little interest after becoming prime minister that year.

After Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1966, the nuclear program was consolidated when physicist Raja Ramanna joined the effort. Another nuclear test by China eventually led to India's decision to build nuclear weapons in 1967 and its first nuclear test, Smiling Buddha, in 1974.

Buddha smiling afterwards

In response to the smiling Buddha, the Nuclear Suppliers Group hit India's nuclear program hard. The world's major nuclear powers imposed a technological embargo on India and Pakistan, which were in a technological race of their own to match India's achievements. The nuclear program struggled for years to gain credibility, and its progress was hampered by a lack of domestic resources and reliance on imported technology and technical assistance. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi told the IAEA that India's nuclear program was not intended for military use, although preliminary work on the design of the hydrogen bomb had been approved.

In the aftermath of the state emergency in 1975 that resulted in the collapse of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's government, the nuclear program was left in a vacuum, lacking political leadership and even basic management. Work on the hydrogen bomb design continued under M. Srinivasan, a mechanical engineer, but progress was slow.

The nuclear program received little attention from Prime Minister Morarji Desai, who was known for his advocacy of peace. In 1978 Prime Minister Desai transferred physicist Ramanna to the Indian Ministry of Defense, and his government once again accelerated India's nuclear program.

Shortly thereafter, the world discovered Pakistan's secret atomic bomb program. In contrast to India's nuclear program, Pakistan's nuclear bomb program was similar to the United States' Manhattan Project in that it was under the military supervision of civil scientists who were responsible for the scientific aspects of the program. Pakistan's secret nuclear bomb program has been well funded and organized by China. India realized that within two years, Pakistan was very likely to succeed in its project.

In 1980 the general election marked the return of Indira Gandhi and the nuclear program began in 1981 to attract requests for additional stimulus under Ramanna to continue denying nuclear testing by the government after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi saw Pakistan begin engaging brinkmanship despite the nuclear program was pushed further. Work on the hydrogen bomb and the launch of the rocket program began under Dr. Abdul Kalam, the aerospace engineer at the time.

Political Dynamics: 1988–1998

In 1989 the general election witnessed the Janata Dal Party of VP Singh, forming the government. Prime Minister V.P. Singh downplayed relations with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the 1988 general election. External relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated significantly when India accused Pakistan of supporting the uprising in Jammu and Kashmir. During this time the Indian missile program succeeded in the Prithvi To develop missiles.

Successive governments in India decided to comply with this temporary moratorium for fear of inviting international criticism. The Indian public had backed the nuclear tests that ultimately led Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to decide to conduct further tests in 1995. The plans were halted after American spy satellites picked up signs of preparations for nuclear tests at the Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan. President Bill Clinton and his administration put enormous pressure on Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to stop preparations. In response to India, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto sharply criticized India on Pakistani news channels. This emphasizes the relationship between two countries.

Diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan escalated when Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto raised the Kashmiri issue at the United Nations in 1995. In a speech by the then President of the Pakistani National Assembly, Yousaf Raza Gillani, he stressed the "Kashmir problem" as a continuing threat to peace and security in the region. The Indian delegation to the United Nations, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, affirmed that the "UN resolutions only ask Pakistan - the occupying power - to evacuate the" Jammu and Kashmir area.

1998 Indian general election

The BJP came to power in 1998 with an exclusive public mandate. BJP's political power had steadily grown in strength on several issues over the past decade.

In Pakistan, the similarly conservative force, the PML (N), was also in force with an exclusive mandate led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who defeated the left-wing PPP led by Benazir Bhutto in the 1997 general election. During the BJP held Campaign, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was great - for example when he declared on February 25th that his government would "take back the part of Kashmir that is under the control of Pakistan". Prior to this statement, the BJP platform had clear intentions "to exercise the option to introduce nuclear weapons" and "India should become an open nuclear power in order to gain the respect on the world stage that India deserves". On March 18, 1998, Vajpayee publicly began lobbying for nuclear tests, stating that "there is no compromise on national security; all options, including nuclear options, are exercised to protect security and sovereignty."

The consultation between Prime Minister Vajpayee, Dr Abdul Kalam, R. Chidambaram and officials from the Indian DAE on nuclear options began. Chidambaram briefed Prime Minister Vajpayee extensively on the nuclear program; Abdul Kalam presented the status of the missile program. On March 28, 1998, Prime Minister Vajpayee urged the scientists to make preparations as quickly as possible, and the preparations were made hastily.

Pakistan said at a disarmament conference it would offer a peace agreement with India for "equal and mutual restraint in conventional, missile and nuclear areas". The Pakistani equation was later re-emphasized on April 6 and the momentum for nuclear tests began to pick up in India, strengthening Vajpayee's position in ordering the tests.

Preparing for the test

Unlike Pakistan's weapons testing labs, India could do very little to hide its activities in Pokhran. In contrast to the high-altitude granite mountains in Pakistan, the bushes are sparse and the dunes in the Rajasthan Desert do not offer much protection from exploratory satellites. US spy satellites were known to Indian intelligence, and the CIA had discovered Indian test preparations since 1995. Therefore, the tests in India required complete secrecy and also had to avoid detection by other countries. The 58th Engineer Regiment of the Indian Engineering Corps was commissioned to prepare the test sites in order to avoid detection by the US spy satellites. The commander of the 58th engineer, Colonel Gopal Kaushik, supervised the test preparations and ordered his "staff officers to take all measures to ensure absolute secrecy".

A small group of scientists, senior military officials, and senior politicians planned extensively to ensure the test preps remained a secret, and even senior members of the Indian government did not know what was going on. Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Dr. Abdul Kalam, and Dr. R. Chidambaram, Director of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), were the main coordinators of this test planning. The scientists and engineers from the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMDER) and the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) have been involved in the assembly, layout, detonation and data acquisition of nuclear weapons . A small group of senior scientists were involved in the detonation process. All scientists had to wear army uniforms to keep the tests secret. Since 1995 the 58th Engineer Regiment had learned how to avoid satellite detection. Most of the work was done at night and the equipment was returned to its original location to give the impression that it was never moved.

Bomb shafts were dug under a camouflage net, and the excavated sand was in the shape of dunes. Cables for sensors were covered with sand and hidden using native vegetation. Scientists would not leave for Pokhran in groups of two or three. They traveled under pseudonyms to destinations other than Pokhran and were then transported by the army. The technical staff on the test site wore military uniforms to prevent detection in satellite images.

Design and development of nuclear weapons

Development and test teams

The main technical personnel involved in the operation were:

  • Project Manager:
  • Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO):
  • Atomic Minerals Exploration and Research Directorate:
    • Dr. GR Dikshitulu; Senior Scientist BSOI Group, Nuclear Materials Acquisition.
  • Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC):
    • Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Director of BARC.
    • Dr. Satinder Kumar Sikka, director; Development of thermonuclear weapons.
    • Dr. MS Ramakumar, director of the Nuclear Fuel and Automation Manufacturing Group; Director, Core Component Manufacturing.
    • Dr. DD Sood, Director of Radiochemistry and Isotope Group; Director, Acquisition of Nuclear Materials.
    • Dr. SK Gupta, Solid State Physics and Spectroscopy Group; Director, Device Design & Assessment.
    • Dr. G. Govindraj, Deputy Director of the Electronic and Instrumentation Group; Director, field instrumentation.

Movement and logistics

Three DRDO laboratories were involved in the design, testing and manufacture of components for the bombs, including the advanced detonators, implosion and high voltage release systems. They were also responsible for weapons, system technology, aerodynamics, safety interlocks and flight tests. The bombs were transported in four Indian Army trucks under the command of Colonel Umang Kapur; all equipment was relocated by BARC at 3am on May 1, 1998. From Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the bombs were flown in an Indian Air Force's AN-32 by Squadron Leader Mahendra Prasad Sharma aircraft to Jaisalmer. They were transported to Pokhran in an army convoy by four trucks, which required three trips. The devices were delivered to the device preparation building called the “prayer hall”.

The test sites were organized into two government groups and were fired separately, with all devices in one group firing at the same time. The first group consisted of the thermonuclear device ( Shakti I ), the splitting device ( Shakti II ) and a subciloton device ( Shakti III ). The second group consisted of the remaining two sub-kiloton devices Shakti IV and V. . It was decided to test the first group on May 11th and the second group on May 13th. The thermonuclear device was placed in a shaft code called "White House" which was over 200 meters deep, the fission bomb was placed in a 150-meter-deep shaft code called "Taj Mahal" and the first sub-kiloton device in 'Kumbhkaran '. The first three devices were placed in their respective shafts on May 10, and the first device to be placed was the sub-kiloton device in the Kumbhkaran shaft, which was sealed by the army engineers at 8:30 p.m. The thermonuclear device was lowered and sealed in the shaft of the White House at 4 a.m., and the fission device placed in the shaft of the Taj Mahal was sealed at 7:30 a.m., which was 90 minutes before the scheduled test time. The shafts were L-shaped with a horizontal chamber for the test device.

The timing of the tests depended on local weather conditions, with the wind being the deciding factor. The tests were underground, but due to a number of shaft seal failures that had occurred during tests in the US, Soviet Union and UK, there was no guarantee that the shaft seal would be tight. In the early afternoon the winds had subsided and the test sequence was initiated. Dr. K. Santhanam from DRDO, who was responsible for preparing the test site, gave the two keys that activated the test countdown to Dr. M. Vasudev, the safety officer for the area who was responsible for checking the normality of all test indicators. After checking the indicators, Vasudev gave a BARC and DRDO representative a key each, which together unlocked the countdown system. At 3:45 p.m., the three devices were ignited.

Specifications and detonation

Five nuclear devices were tested during Operation Shakti. Four of the devices were weapons grade plutonium and one thorium / U-233. You are:

  • Shakti I : A thermonuclear device with an output of 56 kt, but which is designed for up to 200 kt. The yield of this device was deliberately kept low in order to avoid civil damage and to rule out the possibility of a radioactive leak.
  • Shakti II : A 15 kt plutonium implosion design intended as a warhead that can be delivered with a bomber or missile. It was an improvement on the device that detonated in the 1974 Smiling Buddha (Pokhran-I) test of 1974 and was developed using simulations on the PARAM supercomputer.
  • Shakti III : An experimental linear implosion design that used non-weapon grade plutonium, but that likely omitted the material required for fusion, yielding 0.3 kt.
  • Shakti IV : A 0.5 kt experimental device.
  • Shakti V : A 0.2 kt thorium / U-233 experimental device.

An additional sixth device ( Shakti VI ) is presumably present but not detonated.

At 3:43 p.m. IS; Three atomic bombs (especially the Shakti I , II and III ) were detonated at the same time, measured with international seismic monitors. On May 13th at 12:21 p.m. IST (6:51 UTC), two sub-kiloton devices ( Shakti IV and V. ) ignited. Due to their very low yield, these explosions were not recorded by any seismic station. On May 13, 1998, India declared the test series over.


After testing armed nuclear warheads in the Pokhran II series, India became the sixth country to join the nuclear club. Shortly after the tests, a press briefing was called at the Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appeared before the press corps and made the following brief statement:

Today at 3:45 p.m. India carried out three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran area. Tests conducted today were performed with a fission device, a low yield device, and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields correspond to the expected values. Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These included explosions like the experiment carried out in May 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who carried out these successful tests.

Reactions to tests

Domestic reactions

The news of the tests was received with acclaim and widespread approval by society in India. The Bombay Stock Exchange recorded significant gains. Newspapers and television stations praised the government for its courageous decision; The editorials were full of praise for the country's leadership and advocated the development of an operational nuclear arsenal for the country's armed forces. The Indian opposition, led by the Congress Party, criticized the Vajpayee government for conducting the series of nuclear tests. Congress Party spokesman Salman Khursheed accused the BJP of using the tests for political purposes rather than improving the country's national security.

At the time India ran tests, the country had IMF and World Bank loans totaling $ 44 billion in 1998. The industrial sectors of the Indian economy such as the chemical industry are likely to be damaged by sanctions. The western consortium companies that had invested heavily in India, particularly in construction, computers and telecommunications, were generally the ones to be harmed by the sanctions. In 1998 the Indian government announced that it had already allowed an economic response and was ready to face the consequences.

International reactions

Canada, Japan and other countries

Canada heavily criticized the actions of India and its high commissioner. Japan also imposed sanctions on India and insisted on freezing all new loans and grants with the exception of humanitarian aid to India.

Several other nations also imposed sanctions on India, most notably the suspension of foreign aid to India and government-to-government credit lines. However, the UK, France and Russia failed to condemn India.


On May 12, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, "The Chinese government is seriously concerned about the nuclear tests carried out by India" and that the tests "run counter to current international trends and do not promote peace and stability in South Asia." . The next day, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that India's nuclear tests were "shocked and strongly condemned" and urged the international community to "take a unified stand and urge India to stop developing nuclear weapons immediately". China also dismissed India's stated rationale for requiring nuclear capabilities to counter a Chinese threat as "totally unreasonable". At a meeting with Masayoshi Takemura of the Democratic Party of Japan, the People's Republic of China's Foreign Minister Qian Qichen was quoted as saying that India's nuclear tests were "serious business," especially given the fact that more than 140 countries have conducted them Signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. "It is even more unacceptable that India claims to have carried out the tests for a so-called "China threat On November 24, 1998, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi made a formal statement:

(sic) .... But unfortunately, last May India carried out nuclear tests that contradicted the contemporary historical trend and seriously impaired peace and stability in South Asia. Pakistan later also carried out nuclear tests. India's nuclear tests have not only escalated tensions between India and Pakistan and provoked nuclear arms races in South Asia, but also dealt a severe blow to international nuclear disarmament and the global non-proliferation regime. It is only natural that India's nuclear tests have met with widespread condemnation and of serious concern to the international community.


The most violent and violent reaction to India's nuclear explosion came from a neighboring country, Pakistan. Great anger was sparked in Pakistan after issuing a stern statement accusing India of instigating a nuclear arms race in the region. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed that his country, India, would give an appropriate response. The day after the first tests, Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan announced that Pakistan was ready to carry out a nuclear test. He stated, "Pakistan is ready to keep up with India, we have the ability ... We in Pakistan will maintain a balance with India in all areas," he said in an interview. "We are in a headless arms race on the subcontinent."

On May 13, 1998, Pakistan bitterly condemned the tests, and Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub was quoted as saying that the Indian leadership "appeared to have gone mad and acted utterly unbridled". Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was much more subdued, insisting on the uncertainty as to whether a test would be done in response: " We are monitoring the situation and will take appropriate measures regarding our safety "he said. Sharif tried to mobilize the entire Islamic world in support of Pakistan and criticized India for the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come under heavy pressure over the nuclear tests carried out by President Bill Clinton and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto at home. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif initially surprised the world and approved a nuclear test program. The Pakistani Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) conducted nuclear tests under the code name on May 28, 1998 Chagai-I and on May 30, 1998 at Chagai-II through . These six underground nuclear weapons tests at the Chagai and Kharan test sites were conducted fifteen days after the last test in India. The total yield of the tests was given as 40 kt (see code name: Chagai-I ).

Subsequent tests in Pakistan resulted in a similar condemnation by the United States. American President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying "two mistakes make no right" and criticized Pakistan's tests in response to India's Pokhran-II. The United States and Japan responded with economic sanctions against Pakistan. According to the Pakistani scientific community, the Indian nuclear tests offered Pakistan the opportunity to carry out nuclear tests after only cold tests had been carried out for 14 years (see: Kirana-I).

Pakistani leading nuclear physicist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, held India responsible for Pakistan's nuclear test trials in Chagai.

United States

The United States made a strong statement condemning India and promising sanctions would follow. The American intelligence community was embarrassed that there had been "one major intelligence error of the decade" in discovering the preparations for the test.

In accordance with its preferred foreign policy approach over the past few decades and in accordance with the Anti-Proliferation Act of 1994, the United States imposed economic sanctions on India. The sanctions against India consisted of ending all aid to India with the exception of humanitarian aid, banning the export of certain defense materials and technologies, ending American loans and loan guarantees to India, and obliging the US to commit itself to lending to India by international financial institutions oppose.

From 1998 to 1999 the United States held a number of bilateral discussions with India on whether India would become a party to the CTBT and the NPT. In addition, the United States made an unsuccessful attempt to hold talks about the withdrawal of India's nuclear program. India took a firm stand against the CTBT, refusing to sign its party against it despite pressure from US President Bill Clinton, and accepting the treaty as it was inconsistent with Indian national security interests.

UN condemnation

The reactions from abroad began immediately after the tests were announced. On June 6, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1172 condemning the Indian and Pakistani tests. China loudly condemned the international community and urged them to put pressure on India to sign the NPT and eliminate its nuclear arsenal. When India joined the group of countries with nuclear weapons, a new strategic dimension had emerged in Asia, particularly in South Asia.


The Indian government officially declared May 11th as India's National Technology Day to commemorate the first of the five nuclear tests carried out on May 11th, 1998.

It was officially signed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998 and the day is celebrated with awards to various individuals and industries in the science and technology field.

In popular culture

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