Operation Shakti – The Story Of Pokhran | By Dr. Mahipal Singh Rathore | Free PDF Download

The Age of Nuclear Weapons

First true weapons of mass destruction The first test of a fission atomic bomb  = 20,000 tons of TNT . The first thermonuclear (“hydrogen”) bomb test = 10 million tons of TNT A nuclear device is no larger than traditional bombs, but it can devastate an entire city by blast, fire, and radiation.  USA – Project Manhattan  6th and 9th August1945 – Hiroshima and Nagasaki  USSR,UK,France became nuclear powers  1964 – China conducts its first nuclear test 1

Homi Jehangir Bhabha

Father of the Indian nuclear programme Founder of  Tata Institute of Fundamental Research   Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre)  TIFR and BARC were the cornerstone of Indian development of nuclear weapons


• 18 May 1974

• “Smiling Buddha’’

• ‘Peaceful Nuclear explosive’

• 1st confirmed nuclear weapons test by a nation outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (P-5)

• 12 kt yield

The scientists

• Homi Sethna

• Raja Ramanna

• Basanti Nagchaudhuri

PM Indira Gandhi and the government declared that India did not intend to manufacture nuclear weapons – although it had the means to do so – but rather make the nation self reliant in nuclear technology and harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


World Reaction

• Formation of NSG

• Criticism by most western nations

• NPT jeopardised

• Ban on nuclear technology and fuel sale to India by Canada and many other nations

Why the need for second nuclear test?

• The first test was a technology demonstrator

• Nuclear tech was not weaponised and tested

• Need for Thermonuclear and smaller (tactical) devices for real world application if the need arises

Efforts for the 2nd test

• PV Narsimha Rao gave the go ahead for tests in 1995 and 1996

• Test preparations detected by USA/CIA spy satellites

• India pressurised to stop the test preparation by Clinton Administration

• Atal Bihari Vajpayee – 13 day PM term in 1996

Pokhran – II

• 11 May 1998

• 13 May 1998

• Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam -DRDO

• Rajagopala Chidambaram  -DAE

• Anil Kakodkar -Director of BARC Challenges –

• CIA had been detecting Indian test preparations since 1995, therefore, the tests required complete secrecy in India and also needed to avoid detection by other countries.

• Bushes are sparse and the dunes in the Rajasthan Desert and don’t provide much cover from probing satellites The 58th Engineer Regiment of Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers was commissioned to prepare the test sites

• Very small group of senior scientists were involved in the detonation process

• They were required to wear army uniforms to preserve the secrecy of the tests.

• Work was mostly done during night, and equipment was returned to the original place to give the impression that it was never moved.

• Bomb shafts were dug under camouflage netting

• the dug-out sand was shaped like shaped dunes.

• Cables for sensors were covered with sand and concealed using native vegetation.

• Cricket stadium, tournaments as a diversion

Extraordinary measures

• Scientists would not depart for Pokhran in groups of two or three.

• They travelled to destinations other than Pokhran under pseudonyms, and were then transported by the army.

• Technical staff at the test range wore military uniform, to prevent detection in satellite images • Kalam – Maj Gen Prithviraj

• Chidambaram – Maj Gen Nataraj

• The bombs were transported in four Indian Army trucks under the command of Colonel Umang Kapur • All devices from BARC were relocated at on 1 May 1998. • From the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the bombs were flown in an Indian Air Force’s AN-32 plane to the Jaiselmer army base.

• They were transported to Pokhran in an army convoy of four trucks, and this required three trips.  • The timing of the tests depended on the local weather conditions, with the wind being the critical factor.


• By early afternoon, the winds had died down and the test sequence was initiated.


The Bombs

11 May • Shakti I – A thermonuclear device yielding 45 kt

• Shakti II – A plutonium fission device yielding 15 kt and intended as a warhead that could be delivered by a missile.

• Shakti III – An experimental linear implosion design that used “non-weapon grade” plutonium yielding 0.3 kt. 13 May

• Shakti IV- A 0.5 kt experimental device.

• Shakti V – A 0.2 kt experimental device. Announcement to the world by PM Vajpayee on 11 May ,1998





India joins the P5 club Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, famously said, “India has dug itself into a big hole which it will find difficult to climb out from.” Sanctions  End all U.S. assistance to India except humanitarian aid.ü U.S. economic and humanitarian aid amounted to about $142 million a year.  Bar the export of certain defence and technology material.ü  End U.S. credit and credit guarantees to India.ü  Require the United States to oppose lending byü international financial institutions to India, which borrowed about $1.5 billion from the World Bank in 1997.

India’s stand –

• India’s doctrine of maintaining a no-first-use status.

• India has always regarded nuclear weapons as deterrent, particularly against China and Pakistan.

• It has never thought of using the bomb as an offensive weapon and only reserved the right to strike back with massive force if another nation launches a nuclear strike against it.



Changing attitude of the world

India has been a responsible nuclear power in past 20 years  India remains a reluctant nuclear power and believes that the world should soon rid itself of the most destructive weapons that humans have ever built.  US India nuclear deal signed  India has gained entry into  MTCR  WASSENAR Arrangement  Australia Group  NSG?

Indian History | Free PDF

By Dr. Mahipal Singh Rathore

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