updated 9/18/2007 2:13:33 PM ET 2007-09-18T18:13:33

New Zealand's parliament amended a law Tuesday to allow armed air marshals on flights to and from the country, bolstering airplane and airport security.

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Under the amendment, the government will be allowed to deploy armed marshals on planes in case other nations require their airlines to have that level of security, said Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven.

"The provisions dealing with in-flight security officers are future-proofing provisions, and will not come into force until the government considers it is necessary," he said in the parliament.

"If New Zealand was to require that foreign in-flight security officers must be unarmed, this could raise problems for our air services agreements that enable us to fly to other countries," he said.

The new security measure enables New Zealand to deploy in-flight security officers should the government decide to do so, and gives aviation security officers powers to search for and seize prohibited or items, or items that are restricted aboard planes.

It empowers aviation security officers to seize potential weapons, to search passengers' outer clothes and perform pat-down searches. It also requires airlines to deny carriage to passengers who refuse to be searched.

Duynhoven said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. had resulted in significant changes to international aviation security.

He said a clause that had allowed the use of body-scanning technology, which presented "unclothed images" of passengers, had been removed from the law. Manufacturers have been working on solutions to the problem.

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