Here’s the Pokhran Real Story
The Pokhran-II tests were a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in May 1998. It was the second instance of nuclear testing conducted by India; the first test, code-named Smiling Buddha, was conducted in May 1974. After 24 years, the country decided to conduct a nuclear test again. The location where the nuclear tests were to be carried out was Pokhran in Rajasthan, about 350 km from New Delhi, the test was to be conducted in secrecy, in factthe entire operation was top secret as there was a massive international pressure on the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government not to carry out the tests and the US’ satellites were mapping every move in India.shortly after the detonation of all five warheads, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state.This statement resulted in consequences. Numerous sanctions were placed on India by countries such as the United States and Japan. In an interview, US senator Richard Shelby said that the CIA’s failure to identify that these tests were going to take place was “the biggest failure of our intelligence gathering agencies in the past ten years or more”. Foreign countries were worried as they viewed India’s nuclear programme as a threat, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief APJ Abdul Kalam, in a press conference, clearly mentioned that the nuclear weapons were for “national security”. And he stated that India is not a threat to any other country as India has not invaded outside territory in the last 2,500 years, also then Prime Minister made a statement that India would never be the first one to initiate nuclear weapons and would also refrain from using warheads against countries that had not acquired any of their own.
One of the most interesting things about this test is how did the United States fail to identify in advance that Pokhran-II was going to take place? It is a well-documented fact that satellites worth billions were used to spy on Pokhran at all times. In fact, hovering over Pokhran were four satellites that were so technologically advanced they could supposedly even be used to count the number of green patches the Indian Army soldiers had on their fatigues. They were called “Billion Dollar Spies”. And all India had against them were the “Regiment 58 Engineers” from the Indian Army.
According to reports, these men were trained for a year and half to carry out this mission stealthily, everything was planned and the forces carried out the orders to perfection, the Indian satellites gave them information about what could be and what could not be seen from space. Scientists only worked on test sites during the night, when satellites would be unable to capture clear images due to the absence of light. As dawn approached, everything was placed just as it had been the previous day. When the analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) downloaded images from the satellites the next day, it would seem as if not a single strand had been moved. This was a top-secret mission and to make sure that the secrecy of the mission remains and as the CIA was spying communications, code names were used for the shafts One shaft was named “White House” or even “whisky”, while the other was called “Taj Mahal”. Fake names were given to scientists, APJ Abdul Kalam’s name was switched with Major General Prithvi Raj and Rajagopala Chidambaram’s codename was “Natraj”. The use of codewords was so efficient and advanced that it is said that one senior scientist was known to be complaining, expressing that he found the codewords to be more complicated than physics calculations. Only a few ministers knew about the tests. The list included Lal Krishna Advani, George Fernandes, Pramod Mahajan, Jaswant Singh, and Yashwant Sinha. The CIA were totally unaware that the tests had taken place until the prime minister, declared the feat India had accomplished on television. The success of this test was a huge deal, Scientists and the government worked together to accomplish something wonderful, this also made India a full-fledged nuclear state.