Almost Twenty years ago on 11 May 1998, India conducted five detonations at the Indian Army’s Pokhran test range in Thar Desert of Rajasthan. The project code named – Operation Shakti -demonstrated Indians nuclear prowess to the world and consolidated her position as a nuclear capable nation. It was India’s second nuclear test, the first test code named -Smiling Buddha- was conducted in 1974. The success of Operation Shakti not only demonstrated India’s science and technological expertise in the nuclear field, it also showed the boldness of our leaders to conduct such nuclear tests.
The tests shocked the world as they were done with complete secrecy and the India-US ties hit rock bottom. Immediately, sanctions were imposed by United States, Canada, Japan along with other nations against the nuclear tests. United States suspended all assistance to India except humanitarian aid. India, though, didn’t succumb to the pressure and was ably supported by Russia during the time. Pakistan responded by conducting its own nuclear tests as a tit-for-tar game against India.
Significantly, India refused to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) during the two year long negotiations with United States following the nuclear tests and the consequent sanctions. The comprehensive meetings between the Indian and the US officials stretching over 24 months laid the foundation for the Civil Nuclear deal between India and US which was signed in 2008.
May 11 has officially been declared as the National Technology Day to commemorate the success of one of most audacious achievement of Government of India.
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