May 18, 1974 – India detonates atomic bomb

May 18, 1974 – India detonates atomic bomb

On May 18, 1974, in the Rajasthan Desert, India successfully explodes its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment, and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi received the message “Buddha has smiled” from the exuberant test-site scientists after the detonation.

India, becoming the world’s sixth nuclear power, broke the nuclear monopoly of the five members of the U.N. Security Council–the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China, and France. Defending itself against international criticism, India claimed it would use its new atomic power as a deterrent against future conflict with China and Pakistan.