'Today, at 1545 hours, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokharan range. The tests conducted were with a fission device, a low-yield device, and a thermonuclear device.'' - Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, May 11, 1998
On National Technology Day, we salute our stupendous scientists and technology enthusiasts.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 11, 2018
We also remember with great pride, the skills of our scientists as well as the courage of our political leadership for the historic tests in May 1998: PM @narendramodi
Following on the heels of the 20th anniversary of underground nuclear tests of one fusion and two fission bombs at the Indian Army's Pokhran Nuclear Test Range in Rajasthan, John Abraham delivers a fascinating thriller based on that historic event.
The action drama Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran offers us a behind-the-scenes view of events leading up to the secret 11 May 1998 tests that surprised other nations and changed India's standing in the world. Despite warnings, U.S. intelligence agencies failed to predict or prevent the tests leading to ''the intelligence failure of the decade," according to the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee.
India was now a nuclear power.
India had nuclear ambitions for many years leading up to the successful tests at Pokhran.
Between 1965 and 1968, the United Nations negotiated the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which entered into force for signatories in 1970. India was one of four United Nations states that did not sign the treaty.
In 1974, India conducted peaceful underground nuclear explosions which were deemed near failures. By 1978 it appeared that Prime Minister Moraji Desai had terminated India's nuclear ambitions.
In 1995, the U.S. intelligence community detected signs of nuclear test preparations in Pokhran that led the Clinton Administration to work to head off the planned tests.
The day after the successful 1998 underground nuclear tests, The New York Times reported:
Nearly 24 years after it detonated its only nuclear explosion, India conducted three underground nuclear tests today at a site in the country's northwestern desert. The move appeared to signal India's determination to abandon decades of ambiguity in favor of openly declaring that it has nuclear weapons.
While the tests provoked strong reactions from the international community, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee sent a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton explaining,
"The series of tests are limited in number and pose no danger to any country which has no inimical intentions towards India. We value our friendship and cooperation with your country and you personally. We hope that you will show understanding of our concern for India's security."
Parmanu offers fresh insight into the struggle of non-nuclear countries in a world where national strength is often determined by nuclear capability.
Director Abhishek Sharma identifies the political tensions of a country surrounded by nuclear powers seeking to establish their own. U.S. spy satellites and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency were actively monitoring activity in India, so the team conducted test preparations in secrecy.
While Parmanu is a semi-fictionalized account of events, the film pays due respect to the source material. Period footage is leveraged throughout to highlight the challenges of the mission and the two-hour film slowly builds toward the explosive physical and political impact of the "Operation Shakhti" underground nuclear tests.
Once again, the stoic John Abraham delivers another outstanding film with Parmanu. Pulling from the pages of history, the film has special meaning for the actor/producer. After wrapping up the shoot in August 2017, he explained:
"Parmanu is an ode to the Army and scientists, who although ordinary people, truly accomplished extraordinary feats in the face of adversity to ensure that India finds its due place on the world nuclear map. It is a powerful human story of ordinary citizens who changed the trajectory of the country."
At a time when the world is on edge due to nuclear testing on the Korean peninsula, Parmanu reminds us that as long as countries use their nuclear arsenal to define their place in the world, nations may continue to push the envelope on their nuclear capabilities.
The following playlist features trailers and period footage about Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran.
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