Atomic Deserts A Survey of the World's Radioactive No-Go Zones

The Soviet nuclear testing site in present-day Kazakhstan is just one of many places in the world that remain dangerously radioactive to this day.

The Soviet nuclear testing site in present-day Kazakhstan is just one of many places in the world that remain dangerously radioactive to this day.

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Part 11: The Irradiated Buddha


REUTERS
On May 18, 1974, a new member joined the global nuclear family. In the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, near the border with Pakistan, and with expertise gained from a Canadian-built reactor, the first Indian atomic bomb -- called "Smiling Buddha" -- was detonated 107 meters below the ground. India insisted the explosion was for "peaceful" purposes.

In 1998, the site was used for five additional atomic weapons tests. It is unknown whether any radiation leaked to the surface -- officials have claimed that none was detected. To date, India has still not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but has pledged never to strike first with nuclear weapons.

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