The Obama administration has frozen $30 billion in assets belonging to the regime of Libyan strongman Moamar Gadhafi who one top American official today said was "delusional."
The White House's actions came just hours after the European Union imposed sanctions on the tottering Libyan dictatorship.
"As of today, at least $30 billion in government of Libya assets under United States jurisdiction have been blocked as a result of the executive order issued by President Obama," Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said. "This is the largest blocking under any sanctions program ever."
The $30 billion is the total of all of assets of the government of Libya, the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Investment Authority. Cohen was unable to provide details as to how much belonged to the Gadhafi family. Cohen said there was no evidence that Ghadafi or anyone from his government had tried to remove the money.
"These blocking actions... serve two very important objectives: depriving Col Gadhafi and his government of access to these assets and simultaneously safeguarding them for the Libyan people," Cohen said.
Officials said the U.S. was also imposing an arms embargo on Libya.
UN Ambassador Susan Rice said the U.S. was watching developments in Libya, uncertain who would take charge of the country if the Gadhafi regime collapses.
"It's unclear at this point who will emerge as the critical opposition elements," Rice said.
She dismissed Gadhafi's claims in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour that "my people love me," and that his troops did not fire on anti-government protesters.
"It sounds just frankly delusional and when he can laugh and talking to American and international journalists while he is slaughtering his own people. It only underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality," the ambassador said.
As many as 1,000 people have died in confrontations with Gadhafi's supporters and fighter jet pilots have said they defected rather than obey orders to fire on protesters.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted high-level talks in Geneva with foreign ministers from Europe today, pressing for tough sanctions on the Libyan government in an effort to force the ouster of leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
"We have seen Colonel Gadhafi's security forces open fire on peaceful protesters," Clinton said at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. "They have used heavy weapons on unarmed civilians. Mercenaries and thugs have been turned loose to attack demonstrators."
Clinton called on Gadhafi to leave power "now, without further violence or delay."
The European Union also declared sanctions against the North African country, reinforcing the United Nations Security Council's resolution passed against Gadhafi's regime on Saturday.
The International Criminal Court is deciding whether to open a formal investigation into alleged crimes against humanity being committed in Libya, saying it will act "swiftly and impartially" and that "there will be no impunity for leaders involved in the commission of crimes."
The first humanitarian aid from the west is on its way to Libya from France. The United States has also pledged aid.