Heathrow and Manchester airports have had trials using the full-body scanners. Image Credit: Supplied

London: Air passengers will have to go through full body scanners at airports in Britain, says media reports.

The security system was put in place by Britain after a failed Christmas day bombing attempt of a US airliner.

Presently, less than 20 airports in the United States have full body scanners.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown had said that airport security would be heightened in Britain, and all passengers, even those only transiting through the country, will have their hand luggage screened for traces of explosives.

He however, gave no guarantee that the new technology would work.

"We cannot be convinced of the absolute proof of the working at 100 percent level of any technology, that is absolutely true," he said.

"We have found that there is a new form of explosive that is not being identified by ordinary machines. We have got to go further. Our first duty is to the security of the people of this country."

Britain's main airport operator BAA in statement said: "It is our view that a combination of technology, intelligence and passenger profiling will help build a more robust defense against the unpredictable and changing nature of the terrorist threat to aviation.”

Heathrow and Manchester airports have had trials using the full-body scanners.

Meanwhile the US authorities have also introduced tougher screening rules for passengers arriving by air from nations deemed by the authorities to have links with terrorism. Passengers will be put through pat-down body searches and have carry-on baggage searched.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that the new rules apply to passengers flying from or through countries on the US State Department's "State Sponsors of Terrorism" list.

Brown's announcement came shortly after he announced the UK and US would jointly fund a counter-terrorism unit in Yemen.

List of countries

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

Strict screening

Passengers holding passports from the above listed nations, or taking flights that originated or passed through any of them, will be required to undergo full-body pat downs and will face extra scrutiny of their carry-on bags before they can board planes to the United States.

In certain countries that have more advanced screening equipment, travellers also will be required to pass through so-called whole-body scanners that can look beneath clothing for hidden explosives or weapons, or they may be checked with a device that can find tiny traces of explosives

The changes will mean that any citizen of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia will for the first time be patted down automatically before boarding any flight to the United States. Even if that person has lived in a country like Britain for decades, he will be subject to these extra security checks.

The procedures, which go into effect Monday, follow the botched Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound US airliner blamed on a Nigerian man who US officials believe was trained by Al Qaida in Yemen.

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