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NEW DELHI: On the 22nd anniversary of Pokhran II nuclear tests, Prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday recalled the determined leadership of then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that helped the country come out of the nuclear closet.

In his post, Modi said, "The tests in Pokhran in 1998 also showed the difference a strong political leadership can make."

Recalling his Mann ki Baat radio broadcast two years ago on the 20th anniversary of Pokhran II, Modi said Vajpayee’s words had filled the country with pride and valor. Paying tributes to India’s scientific community, the prime minister added that the way the tests were conducted in secrecy, undetected by US satellites, was to the credit of Indian scientists.

Marking its entry into the nuclear club, India, on 11-13 May, 1998, tested five nuclear devices at the Indian Army's Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan. National Technology Day is observed every year on May 11.

India had cited the threat from China for going nuclear but the key countries mainly the US and it’s allies imposed punitive sanctions on India that were far more crippling than the ones imposed in the aftermath of the 1974 test.

The sanctions were later lifted in 2001. India and the US later went on to sign the civil nuclear cooperation agreement that overturned 34 years of the nuclear pariah status for India and brought the country into the web of global nuclear commerce.

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