1967 beginning of Nuclear Program:
Late in 1967 the scientific leadership at BARC led by Homi Sethna and Raja Ramanna undertook a new effort to develop nuclear explosives one that was larger and more intense than any previous efforts. One that would lead to the successful design of a nuclear device, a device that India would successfully test.It is not completely clear why they decided to revive the effort and move forward at that time, but due to the convergence of a number of trends perhaps the time simply seemed ripe. China had just exploded a thermonuclear device in 1967, and had become very belligerent moving troops into disputed areas and making threats. And India’s supply of separated plutonium, necessary for anything beyond purely theoretical work, was slowly accumulating. Some researchers have concluded that the new effort was begun at the initiative of the scientists involved. Chengappa however states that Gandhi directly approved the new effort at the urging of her new secretary Parmeshwar Narain Haksar and that she specifically told Vikram Sarabhai, chairman of the IAEC, not to interfere. In any case Sarabhai did not try to stop this work when he became aware of it and appears by the spring of 1969 to have become at least a moderate supporter of the program
Ups and Downs in development of Nuclear Program:
Nuclear power for civil use is well established in India and has been a priority since independence in 1947. In 1948 the Atomic Energy Act was passed, and the Atomic energy Commission set up. Under it the Department of Atomic Energy was created in 1954 when the country’s 3-stage plan for establishing nuclear power was first outlined. This plan first employs Pressurised Heavy-Water Reactors fuelled by natural uranium to generate electricity and produce plutonium as a by-product. Stage 2 uses fast breeder reactors burning the plutonium to breed U-233 from thorium. Stage 3 is to develop this and produce a surplus of fissile material. India’s civil nuclear strategy has been directed towards complete independence in the nuclear fuel cycle, necessary because it is excluded from the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) due to it acquiring nuclear weapons capability after 1970. (Those five countries doing so before 1970 were accorded the status of Nuclear . In May 1974 when India exploded its first nuclear device only 94 states had signed the NPT and fewer had ratified it. This compares with 190 ratifying states now. After 1974 India was denied nuclear technology by the Western world. Post 1974 India has been considered a nuclear weapons capable state though its military nuclear program proceeded slowly in the ensuing years and only came fully out of the closet in 1998 when India conducted several nuclear explosive tests. The rationale for this isolation was largely coercive, to encourage signature of the NPT by India and the other eighty plus states that were non-signatories in 1974. However, political support within India for its nuclear weapons program has been strong across the political spectrum, due to distrust of its neighbours China and Pakistan in particular, and this precluded any move to sign the NPT as a Non-Nuclear Weapons State the only option open from NPT perspective.
1974 First Successful Nuclear Test:
Smiling Buddha (Pokhran-I) was the assigned code name of India’s first successful nuclear bomb test on 18 May 1974. The bomb was detonated on the army base, Pokhran Test Range (PTR), in Rajasthan by the Indian Army under the supervision of several key army officials. Pokhran-I was also the first confirmed nuclear weapons test by a nation outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Officially, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs claimed this test was a “peaceful nuclear explosion”, but it was actually an accelerated nuclear program.
1998 second Successful Nuclear Test:
Pokhran-II was the series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in May 1998. It was the second Indian nuclear test the first test, code-named Smiling Buddha was conducted in May 1974. Pokhran-II consisted of five detonations, of which the first was a fusion bomb and the remaining four were fission bombs. These nuclear tests resulted in a variety of sanctions against India by a number of major states, including Japan and the United States. On 11 May 1998, Operation Shakti (Pokhran-II) was initiated with the detonation of one fusion and two fission bombs; the word “Shakti” (Devanagari) means “power” in Sanskrit. On 13 May 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 full fledged nuclear state. Many names are attributed to these tests originally they were called Operation Shaktiâ”98 (Powerâ”98), and the five nuclear bombs were designated Shakti-I through Shakti-V. More recently, the operation as a whole has come to be known as Pokhran II and the 1974 explosion as Pokhran-I.