25 years of Pokhran nuclear tests: India’s significant milestones in nuclear tech

May 11 is a significant date in India’s history as on this date in 1998, India conducted Pokhran-II nuclear tests under the code name Operation Shakti. These tests were a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted at the Indian Army’s Pokhran test range on May 1998.

The tests achieved their main objective of giving India the capability to build fission and thermonuclear weapons and the country finally become a full-fledged nuclear state. May 11, 2023 marks 25 years of Pokhran nuclear tests. In the past 25 years, India has achieved several milestones in the field of defence, nuclear reactor capacity, and energy security.


According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), India currently has approximately 160 nuclear warheads. India is also part of an elite group of global military powers having an operational nuclear triad capability. That means India can launch nuclear weapons from land, air, and sea. India has Agni, Prithvi, and K series ballistic missiles, fighter aircraft, and nuclear submarines as delivery systems for the triad.

Rise of nuclear power generation in India

Data available from CMIE outlook and PIB showed that India’s Nuclear Power capacity witnessed a quantum jump in the last two decades. Going by the exact figures, in the year 2003-04 the annual nuclear power generation stood at 17,700 million units, in the latest year of 2021-22 it stands at 47,112 million units, which is a nearly 165 per cent increase. As per government statements currently, India has 22 operational nuclear reactors in the country while the government approved as many as 11 indigenous pressurised heavy water reactors in 2017 at a total cost of Rs 1.05 lakh crore and a total capacity of 7,000 Mega Watts.

Energy security for the future

India has installed generating capacity of 2,225 MW (Mega Watts) in 1998-99 which increased 205 per cent to 6,780 MW in FY23. Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh has recently said that the government has planned to increase the installed capacity base of nuclear power in the country for increased electricity production from nuclear power. The present capacity of 6,780 MW would reach 13,480 MW by the year 2024-25 with the completion of projects under construction. The government has also accorded administrative approval and financial sanction for 12 nuclear power reactors aggregating a total capacity of 9,000 MW, which are scheduled to be completed progressively by the year 2031. On their completion, the total nuclear power capacity would reach 22,480 MW.

Today, India is the sixth largest in the world in the number of functional reactors and the second largest in the total number of reactors including those under construction. The other targets laid down by the Department of Atomic Energy are achieving 20 GW capacity of nuclear power generation by the year 2030, which will be a major milestone placing India as the third largest producer of atomic energy in the world after the USA and France.


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