Investors renewed their faith in gold as a safe haven in the immediate aftermath of the January 3 U.S. attack that killed the leader of Iran’s security forces.

The American drone strike at Bagdad International Airport against Major General Qassim Soleimani, the mastermind behind nearly every major Iranian intelligence and military operation over the past two decades, increased gold prices by 1.5 percent to $1,550 an ounce. This added to a month-long rally that had seen the precious metal climb nearly $100 an ounce, placing it within striking distance of a new six-year high. 

Iran pledged to strike back, assuring tensions will remain elevated. “A forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of other martyrs last night on their hands,” warned Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. The Pentagon was preparing for retaliatory attacks on American interests and allies, as hundreds of U.S. troops headed to the region.

U.S.-Iranian relations have steadily deteriorated ever since President Trump decided to pull out of the Iranian nuclear accord in May of 2018, but the assassination of General Soleimani has put the two nations on a war-readiness alert. 

Gold benefitted in 2019 from geopolitical tensions, primarily the trade war between the U.S. and China. Now, hostilities with Iran indicate 2020 may very well be a year when safe haven assets, like gold, become even more important to investors.