The nuclear deal has been in the eye of controversy right from its inception. Right from the first atomic test conducted by India at Pokhran in 1974 under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi to the Vajpayee government's revival of the nuclear debate, it has traversed a story path. The Indo-US nuclear deal headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush has suffered the same fate. Let us trace the history of the nuclear deal so far.
The first nuclear test explosion by India, code named The Smiling Buddha, was conducted at Pokhran on May 18th, 1974 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's leadership. For the test the plutonium produced came through the CIRUS reactor (Canada-India Research U.S.) and was donated by Canada in 1960. The nuclear test caused a public outcry in Canada, and the Canadian government cut off exchange of nuclear materials and technology with India. Another consequence of the Pokhran test was the formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). After 1974 India did not conduct any nuclear test till the successful Operation Shakti in 1998 by the Vajpayee government.
On 11th and 13th May, 1998 India successfully conducted a series test explosions of five nuclear devices at Pokhran. These tests, code named Operation Shakti, came at a time when different treaties such as LTBT, NNPT, CTBT etc. were ensuring that the Non-Proliferation regime remained strong. In the wake of the tests by India debates centering on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons heated up once more. Several sanctions by major states were imposed upon India, even though within the country the scientists at the helm of affairs as well as the BJP government won accolades and appreciation for taking a bold decision and successfully carrying out the tests.
International reaction however, was of unanimous condemnation. The United States, Canada, Russia and the UN expressed their disapproval; China vociferously condemned the tests, as did Pakistan who vowed to give a suitable reply to India. Barely fifteen days later Pakistan responded by conducting its own nuclear test.
The kick-start given to the Indo-US nuclear deal by PM Manmohan Singh and President Bush goes back to 2005, when India and USA signed a Joint Statement regarding the civilian nuclear deal and now it has reached its final frontiers, awaiting final approval by the US senate. For the history of the Indo-US nuclear deal, keep track of the next article.