Indian Army engineers lowering the Shakti-1 nuke bomb prior to detonation

It was on May 11, India added a feather to its crown when successfully fired the Operation Shakti nuclear missile in Pokhran Test Range. It was the second test conducted by India; the initial test code-'Smiling Buddha' was carried out at the same site on May 18, 1974.

On May 11 and 13, 1998 India set off five nuclear devices at a test site in Pokhran in Rajasthan. It was the first such test in 24 years.

Many names were given to these tests, originally these were called Operation Shakti–98, and the five nuclear bombs were designated Shakti-I to V. Later, the operation came to be known as Pokhran II, and the 1974 explosion as Pokhran-I.

National Technology Day

The Indian government declared 11 May as National Technology Day to commemorate the Pokhran nuclear tests that were carried out on 11 May 1998. It was officially signed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Pokhran II: Objectives

India had three objectives to achieve by Pokhran II. According to Rakesh Sood, former diplomat and someone who was involved in the post-nuclear tests diplomacy, said we had three objectives, "First was to validate new designs to ensure the credibility of the nuclear deterrent as the data set from the 1974 test was limited. Second was to declare that India was now a nuclear weapon state and modify the terms of our engagement with other states accordingly. Third was to generate an acceptance of India as a responsible state with an impeccable non-proliferation record."

Development And Test Teams

The following were the main technical personnel involved in the operation of Pokhran II

Project Chief Coordinators :

  • Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (later, President of India), Scientific Adviser to the prime minister and Head of the DRDO.
  • Dr. R. Chidambaram, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Atomic energy.
  • Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO):
  • Dr. K. Santhanam; Director, Test Site Preparations.
  • Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research:
  • Dr. G. R. Dikshitulu; Senior Research Scientist B.S.O.I Group, Nuclear Materials Acquisition.
  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC):
  • Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Director of BARC.
  • Dr. Satinder Kumar Sikka, Director; Thermonuclear Weapon Development.
  • Dr. M. S. Ramakumar, Director of Nuclear Fuel and Automation Manufacturing Group; Director, Nuclear Component Manufacture.
  • Dr. D.D. Sood, Director of Radiochemistry and Isotope Group; Director, Nuclear Materials Acquisition.
  • Dr. S.K. Gupta, Solid State Physics and Spectroscopy Group; Director, Device Design & Assessment.
  • Dr. G. Govindraj, Associate Director of Electronic and Instrumentation Group; Director, Field Instrumentation.