ibnlive » India

May 02, 2008 at 07:25pm IST

Exclusive: How India became a nuclear power

New Delhi: In a special series on the run up to independence day, CNN-IBN has brought 60 moments that we believe defined India in the last 60 years. Now, we have chosen the top 10 moments, based on the views you posted on ibnlive.com. Here's the fifth in the series—the story of how India went nuclear, in the face of all odds.

It was May 18 1974 when India conducted its first nuclear tests in the deserts of Pokharan in Rajasthan. The test was called the smiling buddha because the nuclear device was a Peaceful Nuclear Explosive.

A team of 75 scientists and engineers, led by Raja Ramanna, PK Iyengar, Rajagopala Chidambaram and others had worked on it from 1967 to 1974. The tests were crucial and a cynosure of the world’s eyes as it were the first nuclear tests by a country outside the five permanent members of the united nations security council.

Now, 24 years later India has declared itself a nuclear weapons state, after we conducted a series of nuclear tests in May 1998 in Pokharan.

In a copycat move, just two weeks later Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons in Baluchistan. The nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan were condemned across the world but analysts said there it floated a new hope that the nuclear parity between India and Pakistan would finally bring peace between the two neighbours.

India has still not joined the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, claiming that the nuclear tests were for peaceful purposes. The recently concluded landmark civilian nuclear deal between India and the United States shows that India's status as a responsible nuclear power has been accepted by the rest of the world.

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