President Bush on Friday signed an executive order that expands his authority to seize the assets of former Iraqi senior officials and their relatives to help rebuild Iraq.

While the order does not designate any new individuals, it makes it possible for U.S. officials to confiscate the assets of immediate family members and entities owned or controlled by the former officials — categories not covered under previous Bush orders.

"The order that I have now issued broadens the scope of persons whose assets may be frozen under those orders by adding the immediate family members of former Iraqi senior officials whose assets may be frozen," Bush said in a letter sent Friday to congressional leaders.

The action extends an executive order Bush signed in May to make it conform with a U.N. resolution, White House spokesman Claire Buchan.

In the resolution, the U.N. Security Council decided that U.N. member states would freeze the assets of members of the former Iraqi regime as well as their relatives and transfer them to the Development Fund for Iraq.