Smiling Buddha: The Beginning (Pokhran I)

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Smiling Buddha (MEA designation: Pokhran-I) was the assigned code name of India’s first successful nuclear bomb test on 18th 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 Indian generals.

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 (MEA) claimed this test was a “peaceful nuclear explosion”, but it was actually an accelerated nuclear programme.

India started its own nuclear programme in 1944 when Homi J. Bhabha founded the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Physicist Raja Ramanna played an essential role in nuclear weapons technology research; he expanded and supervised scientific research on nuclear weapons and was the first directing officer of the small team of scientists that supervised and carried out the test.

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