Iran will refuse any request by U.S.-based non-governmental organization American-Iranian Council (AIC) to open an office in the Islamic Republic, the interior minister said in comments published on Wednesday.

In a rare move, the United States this month said the U.S. Treasury Department''s Office of Foreign Asset Control had granted permission to New Jersey-based AIC to operate in Iran.

A U.S. official said the decision to allow the NGO to go to Iran was "carefully reviewed" within the U.S. government, which cut ties with Iran after its 1979 Islamic revolution and is now embroiled in a standoff with Tehran over its nuclear program.

But Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made clear in comments carried by Iranian media that his ministry would not give its approval.

"If such a request is handed over the Interior Ministry, because of the country''s interest ... will not issue permission," Kordan was quoted as saying by the Kayhan daily.

A U.S. official has said Washington wanted to encourage "cultural exchange and mutual understanding" between the U.S. and Iranian people "while trying to isolate the regime."

Iran has often accused the United States of using intellectuals and others inside the country to undermine the Islamic state through a "velvet revolution," a reference to the non-violent overthrow of Communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989.