25th anniversary of Pokhran-II
- On May 11, 1998, codenamed Operation Shakti (literally, “strength”)/Pokhran-II, India conducted three nuclear bomb test explosions at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range.
Pokhran-I/Operation Smiling Buddha:
- By the 1970s, Vikram Sarabhai (Bhaba’s successor at the DAE) had worked to significantly broaden India’s nuclear technology.
- The Indira Gandhi government showed political will and on May 18, 1974, India carried out its first nuclear test at the Pokhran test site.
Pokhran-II – Projecting India’s strength:
- In 1998, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government showed political will and successfully conducted Operation Shakti.
Unlike the 1974 test, the Indian Government declared itself as a state possessing nuclear weapons following Pokhran-II.
- The test helped India enter the highly guarded club of countries with the capability to deploy nuclear weapons, helping it to cement its status as a dominant nation-state.
- The sole purpose of India’s nuclear deterrence is to deter adversaries’ use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
- The policy changed India’s image and the US (once an adversary of India’s nuclear programme) signed a civil nuclear deal with India in 2008, acknowledging India as a responsible nuclear player.
- Simultaneously, India can leverage the economic, political and cultural appeal to showcase the advantages of its philosophy of nuclear deterrence.