Smiling Buddha

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The Smiling Buddha, formally designated as Pokhran-I, was the codename given to India's first nuclear test explosion that took place at Pokhran on 18 May 1974. It was also the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council having been developed and executed with the help of Canadian nuclear reactors and expertise. The explosive yield of the bomb was reported to be 8 kt.[1]



On 7 September 1972, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave verbal authorization to the scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to manufacture the nuclear device they had designed and prepare it for a test. Throughout its development, the device was formally called the "Peaceful Nuclear Explosive", but it was usually referred to as the Smiling Buddha.

The Team of Scientists and Engineers

The head of the development team was Dr. Raja Ramanna. Other key personnel included Dr. P. K. Iyengar, Dr. Rajagopala Chidambaram, Dr. Nagapattinam Sambasiva Venkatesan, Dr. Abdul Kalam and Dr. Waman Dattatreya Patwardhan under the supervision of Dr. Homi N. Sethna. The project employed no more than 75 scientists and engineers from 1967–1974. Keeping it small served to aid in the preservation of secrecy, according to the researcher Jeffrey Richelson.[2]

Role of Indian Nuclear Research Institutes

The device used a high explosive implosion system developed at the DRDO Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) in Chandigarh based on the American design from World War II.The detonation system of the implosion devices was developed at the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) of DRDO at Pune. The 6 kg of plutonium came from the CIRUS reactor at BARC. The neutron initiator was a polonium-beryllium type (again like those used in early U.S. bombs of the Fat Man type) code-named "Flower." The complete core was assembled in Trombay before transportation to the test site.

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