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A few days before the tests, the chiefs of army, navy and airforce were briefed, followed by another briefing for the key members of the government, who constituted the cabinet committee on security. The morning of the test, 11 May, was pregnant with possibilities. Vajpayee had just shifted to 3 Race Course Road from 7 Safdarjung Road. Army units had installed special, direct lines from the Pokhran site, to avoid tapping, delays in communications or the non-availability of lines. The wind direction was adverse, and it delayed the tests. Books, by Raj Chengappa (Weapons of Peace: The Secret Story of India’s Quest to Be a Nuclear Power) and Jaswant Singh (A Call to Honour: In Service of Emergent India), carry graphic details of what happened that day, so it is best not to repeat those details.

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