SMILING BUDDHA: 49 years ago today, India reached a historic milestone after successfully conducting its first-ever nuclear test at Pokhran in Rajasthan in 1974. The test was codenamed, making India the sixth country in the world to conduct a nuclear test at the time, Operation Laughing Buddha.
The historic test was conducted under the supervision of the then director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), Raja Ramanna. India also celebrated Buddha Purnima on May 18, 1974, which is why the first nuclear test was named Smiling Buddha.
India conducted its first nuclear test on May 18, 1974 in Pokhran, Rajasthan under the able leadership of Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, the Iron Lady of India. Codenamed ‘Laughing Buddha’, it was the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation outside the United States’ P5… pic.twitter.com/ur0iDn0of8
— Congress (@INCIndia) May 18, 2023
During the operation, a thermonuclear device was tested at the firing range of Pokhran. Since the test, the yield of the device has been the subject of discussion. However, according to news agency PTI, the actual yield is believed to have been about 8-12 kilotonnes of TNT.
Operation Smiling Buddha received international attention because this successful achievement made India the first country apart from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC): China, the Russian Federation, France, the United United Kingdom and the United States – to perform the test.
It is said that Dr. Ramanna, after the test was successfully conducted, called then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and told her, “The Buddha has smiled”.
49 years ago, India conducted its first nuclear test, codenamed “Laughing Buddha”. Our sincere thanks to our scientists for this outstanding achievement.
The exemplary and dynamic leadership of Smt. Indira Gandhi, who showed tremendous political courage, will always be remembered. pic.twitter.com/WD6r0BXxwW
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) May 18, 2023
Operation Laughing Buddha was also a huge success for India, as it managed to avoid detection by the United States and other intelligence agencies before the nuclear test was carried out.
But after the test, developed countries including the US imposed some heavy sanctions on India and the reason they stated was that nuclear tests like the one in Pokhran can lead to nuclear proliferation.
Earlier, the operation was initiated on September 7, 1972, when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi authorized the scientists to detonate an indigenously designed nuclear device. After Operation Smiling Buddha, in 1998, the country also conducted five nuclear tests, three on May 11 and the other two on May 13.