French auto giant PSA Peugeot Citroen said that global sales plunged by 16.5 percent in 2012 owing to contracting demand in debt-crippled southern Europe and the suspension of its activities in Iran, in a statement on Wednesday. \"PSA Peugeot Citroen recorded worldwide unit sales of 2,820,000 assembled vehicles, down 8.8 percent. Together, sales of assembled vehicles and CKD (completely knocked down) units totalled 2,965,000, down 16.5 percent,\" the group said. Peugeot Citroen, Europe\'s second-biggest carmaker, said the economic crisis in Europe explained its poor results. \"Southern Europe, where PSA Peugeot Citroen has a particularly large presence, was hit hardest, with the market down 13.3 percent in France, 14.9 percent in Spain and 20.9 percent in Italy,\" it said. Its decision to pull out of Iran early last year also affected group results. \"The decision to suspend sales of CKD units in Iran as from February in compliance with international regulations, which made it impossible to finance Iran-bound sales due to tighter international sanctions, also impacted Group sales in 2012,\" PSA said. The carmaker had sold 457,900 CKD units in Iran in 2011. Peugeot\'s decision to suspend business in Iran was to comply with international sanctions against the Islamiuc republic over its nuclear programme. France also came under intense pressure from Washington lobbies to shut down its thriving operations in Iran after US auto giant General Motors acquired a 7.0-percent shareholding in PSA.