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1974: India Detonates its First Nuclear Bomb

1974: India Detonates its First Nuclear Bomb
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Replica of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 18 May 1974
  • India today possesses so much plutonium that it theoretically could construct as many as 1,000 nuclear bombs. India has officially become a nuclear power on this day in 1974 when its first nuclear bomb was detonated 107 meters underground.

On this day in 1974, India detonated its first nuclear bomb. 

The test was conducted in the middle of the Thar Desert, at the location called “Pokhran Test Range”. It is a location in the Indian Rajasthan, about 80 kilometers from the border with Pakistan. 

The yield of the explosion is estimated at approximately 8 kilotons, which is relatively small (half the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima). 

This India’s first bomb is commonly referred to as “Smiling Buddha” (it was detonated on the day when the Buddhist festival “Sambuddhatva jayanthi” was held).

The bomb weighed about 1,400 kg. It was detonated 107 m underground. Indian Prime Minister at the time was Indira Gandhi, and the explosion of India’s first nuclear bomb enhanced her reputation. 

India later continued the development of nuclear weapons, so, in 1998, it tested the first thermonuclear bomb.

It is estimated that India today has 90 to 110 nuclear bombs. Indeed, India today reportedly possesses so much plutonium that it theoretically could construct as many as 1,000 nuclear bombs.

 The fact that India also has a considerable number of missiles to launch nuclear weapons is also of importance. One of the newer missile systems is Akash, which, when armed with a nuclear warhead, could theoretically destroy enemy ballistic missiles in the air.

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